Sunday, December 31, 2006

Let's end the year talking about trade

How to close out 2006? How about a post about trade? [Yeah, because you never write about that!!--ed.]:

1) In the lastest issue of Foreign Affairs, Rawi Abdelal and Adam Segal suggest that the tide has turned for globalization:

Has the current age of globalization already started to come to a close? Will the process of integration continue, or will it grind to a halt?

The paradoxical answer is neither of these scenarios. The technological revolution that has driven the current wave of globalization will continue. Communication will become still cheaper and easier, allowing corporations to spread their operations -- research and development, design, and manufacturing -- around the planet. Companies will exploit scientific talent in other countries to spark a new wave of technological innovation.

At the same time, certain barriers will start to rise. The institutional foundations of globalization -- such as the rules that oblige governments to keep their markets open and the domestic and international politics that allow policymakers to liberalize their economies -- have weakened considerably in the past few years. Politicians and their constituents in the United States, Europe, and China have grown increasingly nervous about letting capital, goods, and people move freely across their borders. And energy -- the most globalized of products -- has once more become the object of intense resource nationalism, as governments in resource-rich countries assert greater control and ownership over those assets.

This sounds about right to me -- provided there is no major shock to the system (cough, dollar crisis, cough).

2) One step forward, one step back on U.S. trade policy. Stepping forward, Cato's Dan Ikenson rejoices in a mundane, yet positive change in how the Commerce department calculates anti-dumping rates. If the policy change takes place, it would be a welcome falsification of Daniel Kono's powerful hypothesis about how democracies obfuscate their protectionist policies (see also: "hypocritical liberalization").

Stepping back, the Detroit News' Gordon Trowbridge reports on the Labor Department's willful negligence in implementing the Trade Adjustment Assistance program:

[I]n a series of sometimes harshly worded opinions, the federal court that hears appeals of application decisions has criticized the Labor Department's administration of the program, accusing officials of shoddy investigations and blatant misreading of the law.

"This is no longer people criticizing the Department of Labor for one or two cases. This is a systemwide problem," said Howard Rosen, a former congressional staffer who now heads an organization calling for changes in the trade adjustment program.

Your humble blogger is quoted later in the story. Let's just say it takes a unique kind of incompetence to get me to agree with Sander Levin on anything.

3) Greg Mankiw cues me to a Washington Post op-ed by Senator Byron Dorgan and Senator-elect Sherrod Brown, "How Free Trade Hurts", in which a.... well, let's call it imaginative economic and historical analysis is put forward. Here's an excerpt:

At the turn of the 20th century, child labor was common; working conditions were often abysmal; there were no enforced workplace health, safety or environmental requirements; no unemployment insurance; and no workers' compensation. Workers were attacked and killed for the sole reason that they wanted to form a union; there was no 40-hour week, minimum wage, job security, overtime pay or virtually any other limit on the exploitation of employees.

America was split dramatically between the haves and have-nots. It was a harsh work world for many: nasty, brutish and, too often, short.

Worker activism, new laws and court decisions changed all that during the past century....

The new mobility of capital and technology, coupled with the revolution in information technology, makes production of goods possible throughout much of the world. But much of the world at the beginning of the 21st century looks a lot like the United States did 100 years ago: Workers are grossly underpaid, exploited and abused, and they have virtually no rights. Many, including children, work 10, 12, 14 hours a day, six or seven days a week, for only a few dollars a day.

The result has been a global race to the bottom as corporations troll the world for the cheapest labor, the fewest health, safety and environmental regulations, and the governments most unfriendly to labor rights. U.S. trade agreements paved the way for this race: While rejecting protections for workers or the environment, they protected investors and corporate interests....

We must insist that all trade agreements have labor, environmental and other protections so that American workers can compete on a level playing field. Trade agreements must also be reciprocal. The American market is the most desirable in the world. Every country wants access to it. That gives us a great deal of leverage, if only we'd use it. Barriers to U.S. products overseas should not be tolerated.

Free-trade agreements have protected drug companies, international investors and Hollywood films, yet failed to protect our communities, our workers and our environment.

We believe there is a better way. Fair trade is not the enemy of more trade. It's how we expand international trade without reversing U.S. economic progress.

Oh, wow -- compared to these guys, suddenly James Webb looks like Cordell Hull.

Mankiw addresses the historical questions, and a lot of other free trade bloggers pick at the remaining carrion.

I've written previously about the dubious nature of the race to the bottom hypothesis. Indeed, I had updated and extended these arguments in the first draft of All Politics Is Global. Ironically, this section got cut from the final manuscript -- because the academic consensus is that the race to the bottom is so easy to refute, there was no point in devoting half a chapter to it.

After reading Brown and Dorgan's op-ed, however, this chapter fragment seems worth resuscitating. So, for those people who still really, really believe that globalization leads to a race to the bottom -- click here. And for those Congressmen reading this -- go click over to this Greg Mankiw post and make the recommended resolutions.

posted by Dan at 11:01 PM | Comments (12) | Trackbacks (1)

Friday, December 29, 2006

When divas go to Liberty Fund conferences

I'm back from vacation, I'm rested, and I'm ready to wade into a two-week-old blogosphere debate about whether libertarians are cultists.

Earlier this month grand conservative blogress diva Ann Althouse posted her thoughts about attending a Liberty Fund conference devoted to Frank S. Meyer's fusionism. I think it's safe to say that the conference scared the crap out of her:

I am struck -- you may think it is absurd for me to be suddenly struck by this -- but I am struck by how deeply and seriously libertarians and conservatives believe in their ideas. I'm used to the way lefties and liberals take themselves seriously and how deeply they believe. Me, I find true believers strange and -- if they have power -- frightening. And my first reaction is to doubt that they really do truly believe.

One of the reasons 9/11 had such a big impact on me is that it was such a profound demonstration of the fact that these people are serious. They really believe.

I need to be more vigilant.

Jonah Goldberg, who attended the same conference, dissents from Althouse's point of view:
I will say here I find this — to put it in as civil terms as I can — odd. I would note that Ann really believes some things too. Moreover, so do those people in Madison, Wisconsin — which is, I might add without fear of contradiction, far from an oasis of empiricism, realism and philosophical skepticism. But more importantly, the notion that stong conviction — AKA belief — is scary in and of itself can be the source of as much pain and illiberalism as certitude itself. Indeed, it is itself a kind of certitude I find particularly unredeeming.
They have a fascinating exchange with each other on this topic over at -- in which, bizarrely, Goldberg (the non-academic) seems to better comprehend how conferences about ideas work than Althouse (the academic). This has been followed by post-bloggingheads posts by both Goldberg and Althouse.

Over at Hit & Run, Ron Bailey provides a great amount of detail about Althouse's behavior at the conference itself (hat tip: Virginia Postrel). It sounds very.... diva-like. Bailey's conclusion: "I sure hope that Ann Althouse's behavior at the Liberty Fund colloquium is not example how 'intellectual discourse' is conducted in her law school classes in Madison, Wisconsin." Althouse has a lengthy fisking of Bailey's post here. [UPDATE: Goldberg posts his reaction here. Back at Hit & Run, Radley Balko weighs in as well. And for the liberal take on the whole shebang, check out the bloggingheads diavlog between Marc Schmitt and Jonathan Chait.]

Also weighing in are Stephen Bainbridge (who shares Althouse's leeriness of libertarian ideologues) and Elephants & Donkeys (who does not share Althouse's concerns)

Go read everything. Having attended a few Liberty Fund conferences myself, I'd offer the following thoughts:

1) Liberty Fund conferences attract idea geeks -- people who will stay up until 2:00 AM debating the merits and demerits of different ideas. That's kind of the point of these things.

2) I've never encountered any racist attitudes, ideas, or even the benign neglect of these attitudes at these conferences.

3) At these conferences I have, on occasion, encountered a personality type that I suspect gave Althouse the willies -- people so besotted with the positive appeal of an abstract idea that they will argue in its defense against any and all comers. Indeed, they consider this a pleasurable activity. The worst of these lot will pooh-pooh valid counterarguments or appeals to pragmatism as besides the Big Point they are trying to make. Let's call these people True Believers.

4) Give that these are Liberty Fund conferences, I would wager that libertarians comprise a high percentage of True Believers at these functions compared to other ideologies.

5) Despite point (4), True Believers make up a very small minority of overall Liberty Fund attendees. Indeed, with the acknowledgment that modern liberals are probably the least represented group at these functions, the intellectual and professional diversity of these conferences is pretty broad.

6) I'm enough of an idea geek that I'm usually glad that one or two True Believers are in attendance, because it forces me to keep my arguments sharp in a Millian sense of debate.

7) The overwhelmingly predominant personality type in attendance at these functions are Contrarians. Which, of course, makes consensus pretty much a logical impossibility.

UPDATE: Althouse responds here:
Idea geeks. Okay. Well, my experience in legal academia is that people who try to get into the idea geek zone need to get their pretensions punctured right away. The sharp lawprof types I admire always see a veneer on top of something more important, and our instinct is to peel it off. What is your love of this idea really about? That's our method.

We are here to harsh your geek zone mellow.

I confess I'm not entirely sure what "geek zone mellow" means. I think Ann is warning the blogosphere that people in love with ideas qua ideas need someone to take a pragmatist hammer and whack them upside the head every once in a while.

All well and good. But my experience in political science -- particularly international relations -- is that a distressingly high percentage of legal academics write from such an atheoretical, normative perspective that they don't realize that underlying their legal and policy pragmatics are implicit theories that need to be exposed, prodded, probed, and (often) pierced. I might add that it is my fervent hope that legal academics keep on doing this, because it means that they will continue to provide empirical grist for my theoretical mill.

That said, the book on my nightstand right now is Adrian Vermeule and Eric Posner's Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts -- and they have their own issues with civil libertarians. So I'll humbly exit this debate and go do some more idea geeking reading.

FINAL UPDATE: Jacob Levy gets the last, definitive word on the subject.

ANOTHER FINAL UPDATE... I'M NOT KIDDING THIS TIME... THIS IS LIKE THE DOUBLE-SECRET, TRIPLE-DOG-DARE FINAL UPDATE: And I am telling you Ann Althouse is not going anywhere until she has the final word.

So that's it. I'm just going to back away slowly from the keyboard now... no sudden moves... no metaphors... no prose stylings that Althouse could interpret as sexual imagery in any way whatsoever.... and, yes, I did it!! [Heh. You said "did it."--ed. D'Oh!!]

posted by Dan at 01:19 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (1)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I'm not speaking to you

Over the next 48 hours I will be on a mini-vacation, at an attractive metropolitan locale, with my wife.... and without the children.

None of you will be coming along either.

Talk amongst yourselves, and enjoy the break.

Here's an opening question: does this Economic Policy Institute paper accurately assess American attitudes about the global economy?

posted by Dan at 09:23 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (1)

Monday, December 25, 2006

When civil wars go transnational

Merry Christmas! In certain parts of the globe, that whole peace-on-earth-goodwill-towards-men business seems to be at a low ebb.

On its front page, the New York Times reports on two civil wars that: A) involve the United States directly or indirectly; and B) are also drawing in neighboring countries.

First, there's the obvious one -- Iraq. James Glanz and Sabrina Tavernise explain that some Iranians have had their hand caught in the cookie jar:

The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington.

The Bush administration made no public announcement of the politically delicate seizure of the Iranians, though in response to specific questions the White House confirmed Sunday that the Iranians were in custody.

Gordon D. Johndroe, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said two Iranian diplomats were among those initially detained in the raids. The two had papers showing that they were accredited to work in Iraq, and he said they were turned over to the Iraqi authorities and released. He confirmed that a group of other Iranians, including the military officials, remained in custody while an investigation continued, and he said, “We continue to work with the government of Iraq on the status of the detainees.”

It was unclear what kind of evidence American officials possessed that the Iranians were planning attacks, and the officials would not identify those being held. One official said that “a lot of material” was seized in the raid, but would not say if it included arms or documents that pointed to planning for attacks. Much of the material was still being examined, the official said.

Nonetheless, the two raids, in central Baghdad, have deeply upset Iraqi government officials, who have been making strenuous efforts to engage Iran on matters of security. At least two of the Iranians were in this country on an invitation extended by Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, during a visit to Tehran earlier this month. It was particularly awkward for the Iraqis that one of the raids took place in the Baghdad compound of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders, who traveled to Washington three weeks ago to meet President Bush....

American and Iraqi officials have long accused Iran of interfering in this country’s internal affairs, but have rarely produced evidence. The administration presented last week’s arrests as a potential confirmation of the link. Mr. Johndroe said, “We suspect this event validates our claims about Iranian meddling, but we want to finish our investigation of the detained Iranians before characterizing their activities.”

Then, according to Jeffrey Gettlemen, there's Somalia:
Ethiopia officially plunged into war with Somalia’s Islamist forces on Sunday, bombing targets inside Somalia and pushing ground troops deep into Somali territory in a major escalation that could turn Somalia’s internal crisis into a violent religious conflict that engulfs the entire Horn of Africa.

The coordinated assault was the first open admission by Ethiopia’s Christian-led government of its military operations inside Somalia, where — with tacit American support — it has been helping a weak interim government threatened by forces loyal to the Islamic clerics who control the longtime capital, Mogadishu, and much of the country.

Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, said in a televised broadcast that he had ordered the action because he had no choice....

On Saturday, after several days of heavy internal fighting, Islamist leaders announced that Somalia was now open to Muslim fighters around the world who wanted to wage a holy war against Ethiopia, a country with a long Christian history, even though it is about half Muslim.

“What did you expect us to do?” said Zemedkun Tekle, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s information ministry. “Wait for them to attack our cities?”

Even before Ethiopia’s escalation on Sunday, there were alarming signs that the conflict in Somalia could quickly spiral out of control. According to United Nations officials, at least 2,000 soldiers from Eritrea, which recently waged war with Ethiopia, are fighting for the Islamists. They have been joined by a growing number of Muslim mercenaries from Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Libya who want to turn Somalia into the third front of holy war, after Iraq and Afghanistan....

American officials acknowledged that they tacitly supported Ethiopia’s approach because they felt it was the best way to check the growing power of the Islamists, whom American officials have accused of sheltering terrorists tied with Al Qaeda. A State Department spokesperson in Washington said Sunday that the United States was assessing reports of the surge in fighting in Somalia but provided no further comment.

[Hey, you forgot the possible civil war between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine!!--ed. You are correct -- but Eric Umansky has some thoughts on what the United States should not do there.]

posted by Dan at 08:29 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What the f%$@ was Sandy Berger thinking, redux

I was dumbfounded by Sandy Berger's theft of classified documents when it was originally reported, but was "willing to believe that Berger did not have nefarious motives."

The latest round of reporting makes that second part impossible. From the Associated Press:

President Clinton's national security adviser removed classified documents from the National Archives, hid them under a construction trailer and later tried to find the trash collector to retrieve them, the agency's internal watchdog said Wednesday.

The report was issued more than a year after Sandy Berger pleaded guilty and received a criminal sentence for removing the documents.

Berger took the documents in the fall of 2003 while working to prepare himself and Clinton administration witnesses for testimony to the Sept. 11 commission. Berger was authorized as the Clinton administration's representative to make sure the commission got the correct classified materials....

Inspector General Paul Brachfeld reported that National Archives employees spotted Berger bending down and fiddling with something white around his ankles.

The employees did not feel at the time there was enough information to confront someone of Berger's stature, the report said.

Later, when Berger was confronted by Archives officials about the missing documents, he lied by saying he did not take them, the report said.

Brachfeld's report included an investigator's notes, taken during an interview with Berger. The notes dramatically described Berger's removal of documents during an Oct. 2, 2003, visit to the Archives.

Berger took a break to go outside without an escort while it was dark. He had taken four documents in his pockets.

"He headed toward a construction area. ... Mr. Berger looked up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ (Department of Justice), and did not see anyone," the interview notes said.

He then slid the documents under a construction trailer, according to the inspector general. Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

"He was aware of the risk he was taking," the inspector general's notes said. Berger then returned to the Archives building without fearing the documents would slip out of his pockets or that staff would notice that his pockets were bulging.

The notes said Berger had not been aware that Archives staff had been tracking the documents he was provided because of earlier suspicions from previous visits that he was removing materials. Also, the employees had made copies of some documents.

In October 2003, the report said, an Archives official called Berger to discuss missing documents from his visit two days earlier. The investigator's notes said, "Mr. Berger panicked because he realized he was caught."

The notes said that Berger had "destroyed, cut into small pieces, three of the four documents. These were put in the trash."

For more details click here and here. This is the kind of case where the accused either pleads incompetence or malevolence. In this case, he might have to go with both.

Question to readers: will this new news cycle in any way affect Berger's current venture, Stonebridge International?

UPDATE: Pajamas Media has posted the Inspector General's report online.

posted by Dan at 09:18 AM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Five things you don't know about me

Eszter Hargittai has tagged me with the "Five-Things-You-Didn't-Know-About-me" meme. So, here goes, in chronological order:

1) From the ages of eight to sixteen, I wore glasses before switching to contact lenses. Not a big deal, except that my glasses were housed in the most hideous-looking square peuter frames you could possibly imagine.

To this day my parents insist that those frames were "cute." After showing picture of myself from that era to many, many people, I have yet to find anyone who agrees with them.

2) In the seventh grade, I placed third in the Connecticut State Science Fair.

3) In the early eighties, my brother and I used to drive our mother crazy by our near-religious devotion to The A-Team. A few minutes before it would come on, we would loudly hum the theme song and then listen to Mom complain about the decline and fall of Western civilization.

4) As a grad student at Stanford, I had a thoroughly pleasant lunch with Jennifer Connelly. [Um, that's it?--ed. Alas, there's nothing else to report.]

5) A few years later, I was on a date with a woman who was not Jennifer Connelly. I found myself in the rare circumstance of being less interested in her than she was in me. Fortunately, the conversation turned to politics. At this point, I went out of my way to mention my membership in the Republican Party.

The date ended early.

OK, I tag Jacob Levy, Laura McKenna, Dan Nexon, Kevin Drum, and Megan McArdle.

posted by Dan at 08:01 PM | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (2)

You mess with the wheat, you'll get the chaff

The Washington Post wraps a series on federal farm subsidies with a story by Dan Morgan, Sarah Cohen and Gilbert M. Gaul on what happens when you mess with the trough. This part of the story goes back to 2001, and does something I would not have thought possible -- it makes me sympathize with Karl Rove:

One of the most remarkable examples of the farm lobby's power came in 2001 and 2002, when the existing farm bill was written, expanding payments again over the opposition of the White House and key lawmakers. Reformers see it as a cautionary tale.

The architect of the legislation was Rep. Larry Combest, an aggie through and through, a West Texas Republican who came from three generations of cotton farmers and who took control of the House Agriculture Committee in 1999.

Others on Combest's committee included a cattle rancher and tobacco farmer from Tennessee, a Missouri corn and hog farmer, and a government-subsidized rice farmer from Arkansas. The ranking Democrat, Charles W. Stenholm of Texas, had an ownership interest in cotton farms that got more than $300,000 in subsidies between 2001 and 2005, USDA records show.

With help from a generous mandate from the House Budget Committee -- chaired by Jim Nussle (R-Iowa) -- Combest produced a new farm bill in 2001 authorizing an eye-popping $50 billion, 10-year increase in price supports and income supports for farmers. He boasted that the measure was "a major step away from Freedom to Farm."

For one thing, the bill restored a key pillar of the pre-1996 program: cash payments that compensate for low crop prices. Thousands of farms were eligible even if they never grew crops. Budget officials estimated that change alone would cost $37 billion over a decade.

The Bush White House disliked Combest's bill. Chief political adviser Karl Rove saw it as the antithesis of fiscal responsibility. "We're Republicans," aides remember Rove grumbling. The White House budget office issued a stinging critique, saying the bill was too costly and failed to help farmers most in need.

Combest also faced strong opposition from a disgruntled group of Eastern and Midwestern lawmakers, and from senators who wanted tighter limits on what a farm could collect each year.

But Combest had a strong hand. "He hijacked the process," said a former USDA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he still deals with Congress.

At a meeting in Rove's office soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Combest delivered a warning, according to several people with knowledge of the session. Unless the administration backed off, Combest warned, he and his farm-bloc allies would sink a top priority of President Bush's: legislation giving the president a free hand to negotiate a global trade treaty strongly favored by big corporations. "You have to ease up," one participant remembers Combest saying.

Over the next several months, the administration laid off its public criticism of Combest's farm bill. Combest withdrew his opposition to trade-promotion authority, and it squeaked through the House by a single vote. He declined to comment for this article.

posted by Dan at 07:44 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (1)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My governor-elect needs some economics tutors... badly.

Greg Mankiw explains.

posted by Dan at 06:27 PM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

A bad week for Ahmadinejad

I was on Hugh Hewitt's radio show on Tuesday evening to talk, ostensibly, about my Washington Post essay on grand strategy. We wound up talking about Iran mostly. You can read the transcript here. Hewitt is of the belief that the U.S. cannot afford even a small risk of someone like Ahmadinejad possessing nuclear weapons. I am of the belief that Ahmadinejad is not that as powerful inside Iran as Hewitt believes.

It's been a good week for my argument. First, there are election returns:

Opponents of Iran's ultra-conservative president won nationwide elections for local councils, final results confirmed Thursday, an embarrassing outcome for the hardline leader that could force him to change his anti-Western tone and focus more on problems at home.

Moderate conservatives critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a majority of seats in last week's elections, followed by reformists who were suppressed by hard-liners two years ago.

The vote was widely seen as a sign of public discontent with Ahmadinejad's stances, which have fueled fights with the West and led Iran closer to U.N. sanctions....

The election does not directly effect Ahmadinejad's administration and is not expected to bring immediate policy changes. The local councils handle community matters in cities and towns across the country.

But it represented the first time the public has weighed in on Ahmadinejad's stormy presidency since he took office in June 2005. The results are expected to pressure him to change his populist anti-Western tone and focus more on Iran's high unemployment and economic problems at home.

Leading reformist Saeed Shariati said the results of the election was a "big no" to Ahmadinejad and his allies.

"People's vote means they don't support Ahmadinejad's policies and want change," Shariati, a leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's largest reformist party told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Similar anti-Ahmadinejad sentiment was visible in the final results of a parallel election held to select members of the Assembly of Experts, a conservative body of 86 senior clerics that monitors Iran's supreme leader and chooses his successor.

A big boost for moderates within the ruling Islamic establishment was visible in the large number of votes for former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who lost to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election runoff.

Rafsanjani, who supports dialogue with the United States, received the most votes of any Tehran candidate to win re-election to the assembly. Also re-elected was Hasan Rowhani, Iran's former top nuclear negotiator whom Ahmadinejad repeatedly accused of making too many concessions to the Europeans.

Then you've got your student protestors -- Nazila Fathi explains in the New York Times:
The student movement, which planned the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy from the same university, Amir Kabir, is reawakening from its recent slumber and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against Mr. Ahmadinejad. This time the catalysts were academic and personal freedom.

“It is not that simple to break up a president’s speech,” said Alireza Siassirad, a former student political organizer, explaining that an event of that magnitude takes meticulous planning. “I think what happened at Amir Kabir is a very important and a dangerous sign. Students are definitely becoming active again.”

The protest, punctuated by shouts of “Death to the dictator,” was the first widely publicized outcry against Mr. Ahmadinejad, one that was reflected Friday in local elections, where voters turned out in droves to vote for his opponents.

The students’ complaints largely mirrored public frustrations over the president’s crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies and his harsh oratory against the West, which they fear will isolate the country.

But the students had an additional and potent source of outrage: the president’s campaign to purge the universities of all vestiges of the reform movement of his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami....

[Babak] Zamanian, the head of public relations of the Islamic Association at Amir Kabir, said that while the situation had not been ideal in the Khatami years, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s antireformist campaign had led students to value their previous freedoms.

They were permitted to hold meetings and invite opposition figures to speak, he said, and could freely publish their journals. Now, he said, their papers are forbidden to print anything but reports from official news agencies.

The students also complain about the president’s failure to deliver economic growth and jobs. At last week’s protest, which coincided with a now infamous Holocaust conference held by the Foreign Ministry, students chanted, “Forget the Holocaust — do something for us.”

Well, it's going to be tougher for Ahmadinejad to boost economic growth is more foreign direct investment doesn't come through. The Financial Times' Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Roula Khalaf report that this is now a problem:
Iran’s oil minister on Wednesday admitted that Tehran was having trouble financing oil projects, in a rare acknowledgment of the economic cost of its nuclear dispute.

“Currently, overseas banks and financiers have decreased their co-operation,” Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh told the oil ministry news agency, Shana.

The statement underlined the impact of de facto financial sanctions on the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ second biggest oil producer. As the controversy over Iran’s nuclear programme has escalated, the US has applied pressure on European banks and financial institutions to curb dealings with Tehran.

The fact that the UN Security Council could soon impose the first – even if mild – sanctions against Iran has compounded the political uncertainty and risks of doing business with Tehran. Iranian officials insist there is international interest in investing in Iran’s oil industry and European executives play down any impact on companies seeking deals in Iran....

“There’s a growing awareness that de facto sanctions are beginning to hurt and everyone understands the future of the economy depends on the development of oil and gas,” said a western diplomat. “Banks are not lending, partly because of US pressure, but the banks are also drawing their own conclusions.”

The Security Council should be approving sanctions today.

None of this means that Ahmadinejad will disappear tomorrow. It does mean, however, that the president of Iran will be worrying about more than being "insulted" by student protests.

posted by Dan at 08:49 AM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

The dictator for life is dead

If there were a contest for wackiest dictator in the world, many Vegas oddsmakers would have made Kim Jong Il the putative frontrunner. In truth, however, until today the hands-down winner would have been Turkmenistan president Saparmurat Niyazov:

He renamed the town of Krasnovodsk, on the Caspian Sea, Türkmenbaşy after himself, in addition to renaming several schools, airports and even a meteorite after himself and his immediate family. He even named the months, and days of the week after himself and his family. Niyazov's face appears on Manat banknotes and large portraits of the president hang all over the country, especially on major public buildings and avenues. Statues of himself and his mother are scattered all over Turkmenistan, including one in the middle of the Karakum Desert as well as a gold-plated statue atop Ashgabat's largest building, the Neutrality Arch, that rotates so it will always face into the sun and shine light onto the capital city. Niyazov commissioned a massive palace in Aşgabat commemorating his rule. He was given the hero of Turkmenistan award five times. "I'm personally against seeing my pictures and statues in the streets - but it's what the people want," Niyazov said.
The Independent has more on the Niyazov looniness:
He renamed the month of January after himself and April after his mother and banned ballet, gold teeth and recorded music. A planet of the Taurus constellation, a crater on the Moon and a mountain peak were other things named after him....

Like the khans who once ruled this long-nomadic land, Niyazov ran Turkmenistan from an office draped with carpets that made it look like a nomad's tent. When foreign leaders met him he often presented them with a horse.

In 1999, the Turkmen parliament elected him president for life. Which apparently lasted only seven years. The Financial Times has his obit:
Saparmurat Niyazov, the president of Turkmenistan, has died leaving the gas rich Central Asian republic he had ruled for over twenty years impoverished, internationally isolated and with no obvious successor.

Niyazov, known as Turkmenbashi, or Ruler of the Turkmens, died of cardiac arrest in the early hours of Thursday morning, according to a statement broadcast by Turkmenistan state television.

“The people of Turkmenistan will continue to pursue the political course of Saparmurat Turkmenbashi at this difficult moment”, the statement said.

Niyazov, who was appointed president for life by Turkmenistan’s Majlis, or parliament, in 1999, was 66 years old. He admitted earlier this year that he suffered from heart disease, but no successor was named.

Niyazov was a hardline dictator who established a bizarre personality cult in Turkmenistan, a largely desert republic bordering Afghanistan, Iran and Uzbekistan. The opposition has been brutally crushed and there is no independent media.

Western diplomats have expressed concern that frequent government purges ordered by Niyazov have denuded Turkmenistan’s administration of officials capable of ruling the republic or its industries.

Western diplomats are right to be concerned -- it's going to be an interesting few weeks ahead in Ashgabat.

Whether this translates into a few interesting weeks for global energy markets remains to be seen.

posted by Dan at 08:06 AM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How good is the data on Giuliani?

I received an e-mail today about the join Rudy website. This triggered a question that's been in the back of my head since I read Ryan Sager's The Elephant In The Room. Sager mentioned in the book that in a 2005 CPAC straw poll, Rudy Giuliani was the co-leader. Given CPAC is probably to the right of Guliani on every social issue known to man, this was a bit of a surprise. And somewhere in my brain I've been registering this kind of support for Giuliani in various straw polls.

So along comes this Washington Post story by Michael Powell and Chris Cillizza, saying, essentially, that Giuliani has no shot in hell of getting the GOP nomination:

His national poll numbers are a dream, he's a major box office draw on the Republican Party circuit, and he goes by the shorthand title "America's Mayor." All of which has former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani convinced he just might become America's president in 2008.

He is showing the early signs of a serious candidacy: Giuliani's presidential exploratory committee throws its first major fundraiser in a hotel near Times Square on Tuesday evening, and he recently hired the political director of the Republican National Committee during 2006. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week found that Republicans give Giuliani an early lead over Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is far ahead of the former mayor in organizing a national campaign.

Despite that lead, conservative party strategists and activists in key primary states are skeptical and warn that the socially liberal Republican faces a difficult campaign. They question whether a Republican who has had one marriage end in annulment and another in divorce, and favors abortion rights, gun control and immigrant rights, has much retail appeal in the evangelical and deeply conservative reaches of the GOP.

"If the Republican Party wants to send the social conservatives home for good, all they have to do is nominate Rudy Giuliani," said Rick Scarborough, a Southern Baptist minister and president of Vision America. "It's an insult to the pro-Christian agenda. . . . He's going to spend a lot of money finding he can't get out of the Republican primaries."

Scarborough's statement is not surprising. However, Hugh Hewitt thinks Scarborough is wrong:
There is an advantage in doing scores of events for radio audiences and Republican activists over the past two years: At each of them I get to conduct my straw poll. In early 2005, I offered audiences the right to vote for one of five possible nominees --Senators Allen, Frist or McCain, Mayor Giuliani, or Governor Romney.

Two years ago, Senator Allen usually won, but Mayor Giuliani was occasionally on top of the poll --the older the audience, the better he did-- though usually he came in second.

By the dismal end of the 2006 campaign season --and I have only done one large event since the election-- Rudy always wins and Romney is always second, and it is usually close. Before he dropped out Senator Frist had close to zero support, and Senator McCain usually gets about 2%.

From the rest of Hewitt's post it seems like he's a Romney booster, so the fact that he said this about Giuliani is telling.

Or is it? Is the WaPo right and online commentators like Hewitt and Sager are wrong? The National Journal's Blogometer thinks it's the latter. But Glenn Reynolds notes:

I caught a bit of Hannity's show on XM today, and there seemed to be a lot of enthusiasm for Rudy Giuliani from conservative callers there. That's happened before. Maybe the larger GOP base isn't as socially conservative, at least in the context of the 2008 Presidential election, as people think.
Now is normally the time when I offer my sage bits of wisdom on the matter.... and I've got nothing. I don't know how much to trust the data. It's all anecdotal, except for straw polls, which at this stage of the campaign are only a slight bump above anecdotal.

Do any readers believe that Giuliani's popularity with the GOP base is anything other than an ephemeral phenomenon? Will they continue to support a man who endorsed Mario Cuomo for governor in 1994? If so, why?

UPDATE: Yes, I misspelled Giuliani's name in my original post. So sue me.

posted by Dan at 10:04 PM | Comments (21) | Trackbacks (9)

So how are the capital controls going?

Note to self: if I ever instigate a coup in a Pacific Rim country, do not attempt to impose capital controls three months later:

Thailand was forced into an astonishing retreat from its controversial move to impose controls on equity investment by foreign investors after Bangkok shares suffered their steepest one-day plunge since 1990.

Just a day after introducing the controls, a rattled Thai government announced on Tuesday that it would exempt equities from the measures, although it would still maintain curbs for bonds and other debt instruments.

The sudden reverse followed crisis talks between the central bank, government and stock market officials after Thai shares tumbled by as much as 19 per cent at one point as shocked investors rushed to dump stocks. The sell-off forced the Bangkok Stock Exchange to impose its first suspension of trading before shares eventually closed down 15 per cent.

Other equity markets in the region fell in sympathy, providing investors with a catalyst to take profits after recent sharp gains. Mumbai fell by 2.5 per cent, Jakarta by 2.8 per cent and Singapore by 2.2 per cent.

However, foreign investors played down the prospect of contagion to other countries, saying the sell-off was driven by dismay over a move that was unlikely to be repeated elsewhere.

“The Thai authorities seem intent on committing financial hara-kiri,” said Christopher Wood, chief strategist at CLSA.

Mark Williams, manager of the F&C Pacific Growth Fund, said Tuesday’s share-price falls were overdone and that he expected a strong bounce on Wednesday.

But he said Thailand’s “macro mismanagement” would leave lasting damage on the country’s credibility with international investors.

posted by Dan at 04:03 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

The China mystery

The great Henry Paulson-led expedition to China ended a few days ago, and beyond the purchase of a few nuclear reactors, it's not clear that any policy movement took place. Indeed, the most notable event of the trip was what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke planned to say but did not actually say:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke urged China to let its currency gain at a faster pace to end a "distortion'' that benefits exporters.

Bernanke in a speech at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences edged away from his prepared remarks, which called an "undervalued'' yuan an "effective subsidy'' for exports. Using the subsidy label would have implications for China's compliance with World Trade Organization rules and could feed Congressional pressure to impose trade sanctions, analysts said.

Brad Setser decides to tread where Bernanke does not:
Bernanke doesn’t connect the surge in China’s exports to the real depreciation of the dollar, and the real depreciation of the RMB, but I will. The RMB's link to the dollar is a bigger political issue in the US than in Europe, but China’s exports to Europe have actually grown faster than its exports to the US over the past few years....

The RMB’s de facto link to the dollar has become a major distortion in the world economy. But I do worry that the issue has now been framed in a way that makes any appreciation of the RMB – a move that many think is in China’s own interest – appear to be a concession to the US.

I also worry though that China’s emphasis on its own sovereign rights -- including its own sovereign right to peg to the dollar and subsidize the US Treasury -- misses a key point. China is no longer a small part of the world economy. China, inc single-handedly may finance about 1/3 of the US current account deficit in 2007. Its domestic policy choices increasingly impact the world. China's policy choices are a growing concern of the rest of the world.

However, it's what Setser says in this post that caught my attention:
Right now, China is worried about too much growth and an overheated economy, not too little growth. A stronger RMB could substitute for administrative controls on investment. Rather than leading to slower growth, a stronger RMB might help to rebalance the basis of Chinese growth.

In the past few months, China has used a host of measures -- limits on bank lending, delays approving big projects and the like -- to slow investment. With strong exports and a rapidly rising trade surplus contributing strongly to China's current growth (see Nick Lardy), China in sense has been forced to take steps to curb domestic demand growth to keep China's economy from overheating....

If exports weren't growing so fast -- the World Bank expects net exports will contribute 3 percentage points to q3 growth in China -- China's macroeconomic policy high command would have more scope to let the components of domestic demand rise more rapidly. There would be less of a (macroeconomic) case for restraining investment. China could let the banks lend out some of the spare cash, rather than forcing them to lend those funds to the central bank. And the government could take a host of policy steps to stimulate consumption without worrying about overheating.

My take is similar to Brad's -- China's economy would be better diversified if more of its growth came from domestic consumption, China's environment would be better off if growth slowed down by a percentage point or two, and the exchange rate is one of the few non-administrative policy options available.

So, the question is, why isn't China pursuing this course of action? A few possibilities:

1) Interest group politics exist in China, and the export lobby is very powerful. That's the implicit argument in this Steven Weisman piece for the NYT:
American officials and specialists on China have said that Wu Yi, a vice prime minister and the country’s highest-ranking female official, might not have the inclination, or the influence, to challenge the party apparatus that is tied to the sprawling state-owned export industries....

“I’m not expecting any miracles,” said Yu Yongding, director of the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

“This visit by Mr. Paulson will have some influence on Chinese political leaders, but China always prefers gradualism,” he said....

“I have been arguing for a change in economic policy for years, but my voice is quite lonely,” Mr. Yu said. He added that however understanding Ms. Wu might be, she and the Communist Party are largely beholden to China’s export sector, which accounts for more than a third of the country’s economy (emphasis added).

2) The Chinese leadership is worried about domestic political stability: Howard French's story about Shenzen in today's New York Times
Shenzhen owed its success to a simple formula of cheap land, eager, compliant labor and lax environmental rules that attracted legions of foreign investors who built export-based manufacturing industries. With 7 million migrant workers in an overall population of about 12 million — compared with Shanghai’s 2 to 3 million migrants out of a population of 18 million — Shenzhen became the literal and symbolic heart of the Chinese economic miracle.

Now, to other cities in China, Shenzhen has begun to look less like a model than an ominous warning of the limitations of a growth-above-all approach.

While grueling labor conditions exist in many parts of China, Shenzhen’s gigantic plants, employing as many as 200,000 workers each, have established a particular reputation for harshness among workers and labor advocates. Monthly turnover rates of 10 percent or more are not uncommon, labor groups say.

The tough working conditions, in turn, have helped spawn one of the most important labor developments in China in recent years: large-scale wildcat strikes and smaller job actions for better hours and wages....

Increasingly short of workers, factories recently have increased assembly-line wages by as much as 20 percent. But even so, critics say, Shenzhen’s boom has spread little wealth.

While the city is dependent on migrant labor to keep its factories running, onerous residency rules discourage migrants from settling here permanently and make it difficult for them to obtain public services from education to health care.

“The government has evaded its responsibilities toward migrant workers,” Jin Cheng, a member of an influential local civic forum, Interhoo, said bluntly.

The resulting rootlessness has fed a wave of crime of a sort hardly ever seen elsewhere in China. Gunfights, kidnappings and gang warfare are rife, and crime rates are skyrocketing.

Although the city does not publish crime data, the Southern Metropolitan News, one of the most reputable Chinese newspapers, reported that there were 18,000 robberies in 2004 in Baoan, one of six districts in Shenzhen. By comparison, in Shanghai, a city of around 18 million, there were only 2,182 reported robberies for all of 2004, according to figures compiled by the city....

“Shenzhen may seem prosperous,” a worker said, sitting in his bunk in a steamy dormitory, “but it’s a desperate place.”

While the story makes it clear that China's government and regions have rejected Shenzen model going forward, the problem is that it's still the policy in Shenzen and other coastal megalopolises. Shifting away from this paradigm will not be easy, and China's administrative controls are of limited use. If crime and labor unrest are a problem with 10% growth, what happens if growth slows down?

It would be a grand irony if Marx's prediction of a proletariat uprising were to take place in China.

3) China views the world through a relative gains lens. This is what realists have been claiming for some time. The problem with this argument is that China's growth is too export-dependent -- a realist would be much more comfortable with domestic-led growth. Still, it's a possibility to consider.

Readers are encouraged to offer their answers to the China puzzle.

posted by Dan at 09:08 AM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

Your holiday quote of the day

From Jane Galt:

It's the holiday season in New York, which means the festive sight of twenty-somethings decorating the early morning streets with the former contents of their stomachs.
I strongly suspect that many New Yorkers will vent about this during the celebration of this holiday.

posted by Dan at 09:02 AM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Virtual Posner

Richard Posner's avatar recently gave a lecture in Second Life. New World Notes provides a transcript. Among my favorite parts:

Suddenly, a large wooden cube materializes in the middle of the auditorium, blocking Judge Posner from the audience-- an apparent griefer attack on the event, or the Judge himself.

[Posner]: That's an example of the kind of threat that worries me-- a huge box marching through an amphitheatre.

The audience laughs while chaos ensues, during which Hamlet Au briefly crashes out of the world, and the Judge notices an audience member:

JRP: Is that a raccoon?

Kear Nevzerov: I'm a "furry". Not sure how I got this way.

[Posner]: I think it's Al Qaeda.

KN: I'm really an IP lawyer from DC. Honest.

[Posner]: I like your tail.

Hat tip: Will Baude.

posted by Dan at 01:54 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, social constructivist

As the dust settles on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust conference from last week, it's becoming clear that Ahmadinejad sees the world through the lens of social constructivism.* As this Time inteview suggests, for Ahmadinejad there is a direct link between a conference on the Holocaust and Iran's current foreign policy:

Q: You've just held a conference questioning the Holocaust. Why not hold a peace conference instead? You could invite the Israelis and Palestinians to talk about peace, instead of what happened 60 years ago.

A: As a matter of fact this conference was in line of peace. Because for the past 60 years, the Palestinian people have been suppressed using the Holocaust as the pretext. If the issue of the Holocaust became clear, the issue would be solved.

When the issue becomes clear, and understood that the Holocaust does not have any relationship with the Palestinian people, then we will have two proposals for the Western and European countries. The first solution is that in the same way that you mounted this regime in the past, you can remove it yourself. You know well that the Holocaust has nothing to do with the Palestinian people. That was just a pretext to create this regime. And it was not a good excuse. Just cease to support it. Don't use your people's money to assist this violent regime. This is the best solution. If they do not accept the first solution, then they should allow the nation of Palestine to make their decision about its own fate. Anyone who is a Palestinian citizen, whether they are Christian, Jewish or Muslim, should decide together in a very free referendum. There is no need for war. There is no need for threats or an the atomic bomb either.

Q: Israel isn't going to accept any of this.

A: If the American and British government do not support and help them, and they stop using their power and influence they will accept.

This comes through in BBC reporter Frances Harrison's personal reflections on the conference as well (worth reading in their entirety to comprehend Harrison's revulsion at the whole exercise):
[One presenter] summed up his argument succinctly. He claimed there were no gas chambers at all - millions of Jews did not die - therefore there was no holocaust.

And if there was no Holocaust then there was no justification for the creation of the state of Israel. Therefore Israel was an impostor.

It had all the simplicity of a mathematical proof - refuting the worst genocide in living memory and absolving one of the most evil and wicked regimes in history of its crimes against humanity.

So this was the aim of the conference for Iran - to undermine the very argument for the existence of Israel.

The Ahmadinejad administration is not the only one to buy into a social constructivist foreign policy. And, like these other administrations, Ahmadinejad will run into two major constraints to his approach:
1) There are limits to social construction when brute facts are involved. Ahmadinejad's assumption, for example, that the Israeli government has no material power of its own borders on delusional.

2) Even institutions and ideas that are socially constructed are not easy to change. Ahmadinejad's quixotic quest to question the Holocaust succeeded in bringing "a small clique of apologists for the Third Reich with only fringe appeal," in Harrison's words, to Tehran. It will have no effect on the epistemic community of historians who have pretty much concluded that the Holocaust is a material fact.

If only Ahmadinejad had done some more reading in international relations. Ah, well, my hunch is that Ahmadinejad will start feeling the effects of his policies right about now.

* Readers should not come to the conclusion from this assertion that just because I'm saying Ahmadinejad is attempting a constructivist gambit, all academic approaches to social constructivism are evil, wrong, etc. I'm sure some will, however.

posted by Dan at 08:48 AM | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (0)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

In your face, everyone else!!!!

Time tells me what my ego wants to hear:

[F]or seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
Hah!! I knew it!!! I knew I was Person-of-the-Year material!! Take that, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- you couldn't do better than second!! Go suck an egg, George W. Bush!! Daniel Craig, I don't care any more that my wife really, really liked that bathing suit scene in Casino Royale. I'm the king of the world!!!!

[Um... you know they meant "you" in the global sense--ed.] Oh.... never mind.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse believes this gambit is "unbelievably dorky." I wouldn't go that far. It's certainly amusing -- I couldn't stop laughing when I first read it. Beyond the instinct to giggle and the God-awful bubble-headed prose, however, there is the core of an idea worth expanding into a popular book -- the idea of production by consumption.

For a wide variety of products, traditional consumers now add value by mixing, matching, riffing, sampling, commenting, critiquing, customizing, and mutating goods and services. In the process, value-added is created. It's an interesting phenomenon, and someone like Virginia Postrel or Robert Wright or James Surowiecki or Steven Johnson should take the idea and run with it -- they'd have to do better than Time.

UPDATE: William Beutler predicted Time would do this back in October.

posted by Dan at 12:11 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (2)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

My time on the F-list

My latest debate with Henry Farrell is now available. Among our topics:

1) Did the Iraq Study Group accomplish anything?

2) Why haven't there been mass protests against the war?

3) Is offshore balancing possible in the Middle East?

4) Krugman on income inequality... again.

5) Would you rather be Paul Krugman or David Card?

Highlights include me nearly choking on a glass of water, Henry coming up with the wonderful term "F-list celebrity" for bloggers, and free advertising for this establishment.

posted by Dan at 08:10 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

What's the grandest strategy of them all?

Remember that blog query I made about available grand strategies? Yes, I had an ulterior motive:

"The Grandest Strategy of Them All," Washington Post, December 17, 2006:

In this climate [of uncertainty], policy heavyweights from Washington to New York to Boston are grasping for the Next Big Idea, the grand strategy that will guide U.S. foreign policy in a post-Iraq world and earn its creator fame and, if not fortune, perhaps a spot on the next administration's foreign-policy team. So who will be the next George Kennan? The current strategies on offer in various books and articles include new buzzwords, promising ideas -- and miles to go before a consensus emerges.
Click on the article to see my take on the candidate strategies -- and which one I think has the best chance of winning out (though it's still a horse race). I even managed to talk about the dangers of economic populism again.

Obsessive readers of might find a few echoes of this piece embedded in various blog posts from the past, including this eulogy for George Kennan, this rave of Jeffrey Legro's book, this discussion of multi-multilateralism, and this critique of the Princeton Project over at TPM Book Club.

UPDATE: The Fletcher School owns the Washington Post Outlook section today. My colleague Lawrence Harrison also has an essay -- on whether free market democracy can travel across cultures.

posted by Dan at 08:20 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, December 15, 2006

The limits of political science

The November 2006 issue of the American Political Science Review is a special one: "The Evolution of Political Science." Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the APSR, it consists of about 25 short essays discussing how the APSR has treated various political phenomena.

There's something for everyone in this issue. History of political science is not as widely taught as history of economic thought, but those who are interested should check out the whole issue -- particularly Michael Heaney and Mark Hansen's take on "The Chicago school" of political science. Conservative critics of the academy will delight in laughing at Michael Parenti's rant about how political science is a conservative discipline.

World politics types will likely find Bruce Bueno de Mesquita's essay worth of perusal. The one that stands out for me is Andrew Bennett and John Ikenberry's "The Review's Evolving Relevance for U.S. Foreign Policy 1906-2006"

Bennett and Ikeberry go back over all of the IR contributions to the APSR. Their chief finding? Even in the "good old days" when the APSR actively publshed policy relevant work, political scientists did not appear to be clued in to the brewing problems of world politics:

To read early issues of the Review is to be reminded that aspiring toward policy relevance is quite different from achieving it, and that any policy influence the profession does achieve will not necessarily be in directions that future historians will find praiseworthy. Just as the Review and the political science profession in general failed to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Review before 1914 conveyed little sense that a cataclysmicworld warwas imminent.The journal did publish an article on the Balkans (Harris 1913), but it did not focus on the larger power transitions taking place in Europe until publication of a rather realist analysis of “The Causes of the Great War” after World War I had begun (Turner 1915). In this same time period, the Review was filled with articles putting a favorable emphasis on international law as a means toward peace.

After World War I, the Review played a role in the “idealism-realism” debate of the 1920s (Carr 1940), largely favoring the idealist side with more than a dozen articles through the decade on the League of Nations or international law. Former President William Howard Taft, for example, launched a staunch defense of the League of Nations in the Review (Taft 1919). Only one article in the journal in the 1920s included the term “balance of power” in its title, and this article strongly criticized balance of power politics and argued that the building of international institutions was the best answer to the problem of war (Hoard 1925). In the 1930s, a handful of articles began to focus on the issues that would precipitate World War II, including the Manchurian crisis, nationalism, and the geographic bases of states’ foreign policies, but no articles were fully dedicated to assessing the international implications of the rise of Hitler or Germany. Articles sympathetic to the League of Nations process, on the other hand, continued right up until the spring of 1939 (Myers 1939), although an article critical of international law appeared in 1938 (Wild 1938).

It is an interesting piece of trivia to know that not one, but two presidents have published in the APSR.

UPDATE: Commenters point out a possible selection bias question -- it might be that political scientists did generate useful predictions, but these predictions were simply not published in the APSR.

This is a valid point, but I think it applies better to the post-1945 environment than the pre-1945 one. Most of the major IR journals -- International Organization, World Politics, International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution -- did not exist before 1945. All of the policy journals, except for Foreign Affairs, were not in existence. Therefore, prior to '45, the APSR would have been the predicted outlet for scholarly work on world politics.

On the other hand, Foreign Affairs might have siphoned off a few articles. I know of at least one person who received tenure at a major research institution, when their only publication was a Foreign Affairs article.

posted by Dan at 09:31 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (1)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The globalization of baseball

Like everyone else in New England, I followed Scott Boras' negotiations with the Red Sox over Daisuke Matsuzaka's contract with great interest. The roller coaster nature of the negotiations caused many who questioned the Red Sox strategy earlier this week to now offer hosannas to Theo Epstein and company now. Indeed, just scroll down the Boston Dirt Dogs site just to get a taste of what this week has been like for New England sports fans.

I write this, however, not to denigrate sports columnists and sports bloggers (hell, I even find Dan Shaughnessy amusing today). Rather, as someone with a passing interest in the international relations of sport, it is interesting to note that as big a story as this has been in New England, it's been an even bigger story in Japan. The AP reports that the Japanese Prime Minister was asked to comment on it:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that he is "so impressed" by Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, after reports that the Boston Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement with the right-hander on a US$52 million, six-year contract.

"I'm so impressed," Abe told a group of reporters at his office Thursday. "(Matsuzaka) is Japan's best pitcher, and his ability was fully evaluated."

"As Japanese national, I feel so happy to see our countrymen do well overseas, like in the Major League," he added.

Matsuzaka's agreement includes US$8 million in incentives based on awards that would bring the total to US$60 million over six years, and also includes award bonuses, the most expensive cultural exchange in Major League Baseball history.

As Bryan Walsh reports for, this is emblematic of a profound cultural shift among Japanese sports fans:
Most Japanese fans... are celebrating Matsuzaka's signing as further proof that Japan's best players can compete on baseball's premier stage. Japanese players who move to the majors are no longer seen as leaving Japan behind; they are seen as representing their country in the international game. It's a sign that the globalization of sport is finally penetrating this often isolationist country, that many fans here would rather watch an international game with the top players in the world than settle for a lessened domestic product. As one Japanese baseball blog put it: "Finally, all the dream matches will come true in 2007. Matsuzaka vs. Godzilla Matsui, Matsuzaka vs. Genius Ichiro, Matsuzaka vs. Igawa! I wish the MLB 2007 season would start soon." He's not the only one.
Of course, there remain some interesting cultural gaps. From Walsh's report:
Japanese fans may be a little fuzzy on Beantown's traditions, though. Toshiyuki Nagao, a lifelong fan, expressed concern that "there are many academic and white-collar people in Boston, who might not appreciate baseball's earthy passion."
No, Boston sports fans aren't obsessive about the Red Sox at all.....

UPDATE: For those Sox fans who want to know how to cheer on Matsuzaka and curse the Yankees in Japanese, click here.

For those Sox fans who want to know how the Red Sox can profit from the Matzusaka signing from the Japanese market, click here.

posted by Dan at 02:25 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drezner gets volunteered results on volunteerism!!

Last week I asked the following question about the spike in volunteerism: [

D]escribing the growth of teenage participation in these kind of activities as "volunteerism" stretches the meaning of the word a bit, since "service-learning programs" are often mandated at the high school level (that said, the growth of volunteerism at the high school level might also be a function of market pressures -- you want to get into a good college,you need to demonstrate volunteerism).

One question I'm curious about: these service programs have been in place for quite some time now. Does anyone know if hard data exists showing that participation in them triggers a life-long pattern of volunteerism?

I've now received an answer.

Mike Planty, Robert Bozick and Michael Regnier, "Helping Because You Have To or Helping Because You Want To? Sustaining Participation in Service Work From Adolescence Through Young Adulthood." Youth & Society, Vol. 38, No. 2, 177-202:

This article examines whether the motive behind community service performed during high school—either voluntary or required—influences engagement in volunteer work during the young adult years. Using a sample of students from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (N= 9,966), service work in high school is linked with community service in young adulthood. The findings show that participation in community service declines substantially in the 2 years following high school graduation but then rebounds slightly once members of the sample reach their mid-20s. In general, community service participation in high school was related to volunteer work both 2 and 8 years after high school graduation. However, those who were required to participate in community service while in high school were only able to sustain involvement 8 years after graduation if they reported that their participation was voluntary. Strengths and limitations of the analysis as well as implications for youth policy are discussed.

posted by Dan at 06:56 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Separated at birth?

Matthew Yglesias, meet Xavier von Erck.... or do you already know each other????!!!!:



UPDATE: Attack of the killer Yglesias!!

posted by Dan at 05:03 PM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Susan Schwab begins to answer my question

When we last left our gripping narrative about the Doha round, I asked a question without an answer:

ME: There seems to be a catch-22 on reviving Doha. Other countries won't negotiate seriously with the United States unless they believe that we can get TPA renewed. At the same time, the only way that TPA is likely to be renewed is if Congressmen seen the outline of a Doha deal. How does one escape this conundrum?

[USTR SUSAN] SCHWAB: Good question. [Long pause.]

In this Wall Street Journal story by Greg Hitt, I see that Schwab has a longer answer (hat tip: Glenn Reynolds):
The Doha round of global trade talks stalled after hitting numerous roadblocks over the summer. Now the White House is working to revive negotiations, even as a new barrier looms: a Congress much more skeptical of free trade.

Administration officials have stepped up the campaign to win support for its plan. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, who spent years as an aide on Capitol Hill, is wooing the incoming trade czars of the new Democratic Congress. Speaking recently to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, she urged cooperation on trade and Doha. "We cannot let a strong, potential Doha deal slip through our fingers," she said.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is rallying support for Doha around the globe. In London, he said Doha remains the administration's "top trade priority," even with the change in control of Congress next year. In Geneva, U.S. negotiators, after months on the sidelines, are taking part in fresh talks with trading partners on thorny issues, such as cutting farm supports.

The administration is banking that all the political maneuvering will help inject some momentum back into the talks by the spring. The goal isn't necessarily to finish a deal then, but to show enough progress to persuade skeptics in Congress to extend the president's trade-negotiating authority beyond June, when it is set to expire. That authority lets the president negotiate deals with other countries, and put them to Congress for an up-or-down vote -- without amendment. As a practical matter, nations generally don't like to sign deals that could be changed in Congress, so extending that authority would buy U.S. negotiators some extra time to seal a Doha deal.

Whether the Bush administration is able to restart the Doha talks could serve as a measure of the muscle behind critics of free trade in the U.S. And if the impasse on Doha becomes permanent, it could herald the closing of the era of global economic integration that began after World War II.

"A failure of Doha really would signal a crisis of confidence in the multilateral trading system," said C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, a free-market think tank in Washington. "The WTO would continue to exist. But there would be a big loss of its standing and its credibility." (emphasis added)

This isn't the worst idea in the world -- though I expect David Sirota to be popping a blood vessel sometime in the next week.

With regard to Bergsten's prediction, I actually think the crisis of confidence is already upon us, if this Economist Intelligence Unit survey is any indication:

[T]he Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a wide-ranging survey of 286 executives spread across the world’s main trading regions. The key findings from the research are highlighted below.

Protectionism is thought to be on the rise, particularly in the developed world. Just over 50% of survey respondents thought that protectionism was rising either significantly or moderately in developed markets, with only 16% believing that it was falling (30% regarded the level of protectionism in those markets as stable). A smaller proportion, although still narrowly the majority, of respondents (39%) thought that protectionism was increasing in emerging markets, whereas one-third reckoned it was declining. In practice, while protectionism is difficult to track, its impact on growth is significant.

The impact on business can be severe... Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts show that a relatively modest backlash against globalisation could shave nearly a full percentage point off world GDP growth over the period 2011-2020. One in five executives to express a view (38 companies in total) say their company has had an investment deal fail in a certain market owing to local trade and investment rules over the past three years. More happily, 25% of the overall sample have entered a new market in that same period because of changes in the rules.

posted by Dan at 02:59 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

I never get invited to the cool conferences

A perennial fear that plagues aspiring policy wonks and scholars is the concept that they will be shut out from all the high-powered conferences and projects that are going on in their field.

I thought I was over that fear, but, gosh darn it, I didn't get the invite to this cool conference in Tehran that's "debating" the Holocaust. I mean, this keynote speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks like a killer:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at an international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel's days were numbered.

Ahmadinejad, who has sparked international outcry by referring to the killing of six million Jews in World War Two as a "myth" and calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map", launched another verbal attack on the Jewish state.

"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want," he said.

"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out," he added.

His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference, who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel Jews and European and American writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated....

Delegates at the meeting earlier on Tuesday agreed to form a "fact-finding" committee to study the Holocaust.

The head of the new committee, identified as Iranian academic Mohammad Ali Ramin, said its members were "not racist or opposed to any particular group".

"Rather they are just seeking the truth to set humanity truly free," the ISNA students news agency quoted him as saying, without naming the committee members.

Apparently, some students were not too keen to hear this message, according to the Scotsman's Michael Theodoulou:
A conference of the world's most prominent Holocaust deniers opened in Iran yesterday amid international condemnation and protests by dozens of Iranian students, who burned pictures of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and chanted "death to the dictator".

Never has the hardline leader, who was giving a speech at a university in Tehran yesterday, faced such open hostility at home.

One student said the crowd was protesting against the "shameful" Holocaust conference - which was organised after Mr Ahmadinejad described the murder of six million Jews by Nazis a "myth" invented to justify the occupation of Palestinian land - and the "fact that many activists with student movements have not been allowed to attend university".

The conference "has brought to our country Nazis and racists from around the world", the activist added.

The protest will be deeply embarrassing for the president, who has portrayed Iran as champion of free speech in hosting the event, organised by the Iranian foreign ministry.

The two-day meeting has attracted "revisionist" historians with jail records in Europe, and David Duke, an American former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Professors and researchers from France to Indonesia arrived at the plush conference centre in an upmarket north Tehran suburb to give papers on topics such as "Irrational Vocabulary of the American Professorial Class with Regards to the Holocaust".

The conference has embarrassed many ordinary Iranians, who are aware of the damage such events are inflicting on their country's image.

Mr Ahmadinejad responded to the burning of his pictures by protesters at Amir Kabir University by saying: "Everyone should know that Ahmadinejad is prepared to be burned in the path of true freedom, independence and justice."

Hmmm... embarrassing does seem to be a word that keeps cropping up about this conference.

posted by Dan at 01:36 PM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

An Obama question that will make many people squirm and fidget

Skimming through the Obama-thon coverage from New Hampshire, this quote from a Newsweek story about Hillary vs. Obama by Jonathan Alter caught my eye:

"After seven years of the 'we kick a--, go it alone' foreign-policy response to 9/11, the American voter will be ready to try a leader who projects better on the world stage," says Jeh Johnson, a corporate attorney and former general counsel of the Air Force under Clinton. "Barack's multicultural heritage will represent that change."
Johnson's quote is fascinating, because while I have no doubt that there would be parts of the globe where Obama's heritage would be a plus, I'm not entirely certain that the effect is as global as Johnson claims. Racism is hardly a phenomenon that's unique to the United States, and without naming names there are some countries out there that are not too keen on dark-skinned people. Even in regions of the globe where reason and light ostensibly prevail, there are football fans who dissent from this view.

Here's an uncomfortable question to readers -- are there any regions, countries, or classes of the globe where Obama's African heritage might not be considered in a favorable light?

Just to be clear -- these kind of responses do not constitute a knock on Obama. But Johnson's quote got me thinking, and it's worth pondering all of the effects of Obama's media coronation candidacy.

posted by Dan at 09:12 AM | Comments (29) | Trackbacks (0)

Is offshore balancing possible in the Middle East?

In the New York Times, Eugene Gholz, Daryl Press, and Ben Valentino argue that the U.S. should switch to and offshore balancing strategy in the Middle East. They mean this as literally as possible:

The Iraq Study Group’s recommendation that the United States withdraw its combat forces from Iraq reflects a growing national consensus that our military cannot quell the violence there and may even be making matters worse. Although many are hailing this recommendation as a bold new course, it is not bold enough. America will best serve its interests in the Persian Gulf by withdrawing its ground-based military forces not only from Iraq, but from the entire region....

In fact, many of the same considerations that led the Iraq Study Group to call for withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq suggest that the United States should withdraw its troops from neighboring states as well — leaving only naval forces offshore in international waters. As in Iraq, a large United States military footprint on the ground undermines American interests more than it protects them.

Just as our troops on Iraqi streets have provided a rallying point for the insurgency, the United States military presence throughout the region has been a key element in Al Qaeda’s recruitment campaign and propaganda. If America withdrew from Iraq but left behind substantial forces in neighboring states, Al Qaeda would refocus its attacks on American troops in those countries — remember the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia?

Worse, the continued presence of our military personnel across the region will continue to incite extremists to attack American cities. Osama bin Ladin repeatedly stated that the presence of American forces on the holy ground of the Arabian Peninsula was a primary reason for 9/11.

Our presence also destabilizes our important regional allies. Not only do American bases make these countries a target for terrorists, but many of their citizens bristle at the sight of United States bases on their soil. Indeed, the most serious near-term threat to our energy interests is the overthrow of friendly governments by domestic Islamic extremists, a danger that is increased by the presence of our troops.

The good news is that the United States does not need to station military forces on the ground in Persian Gulf countries to protect its allies or to secure its vital oil interests....

You'll have to click on the link to see why they believe this to be the case.

I've got two concerns about this strategy. The first one is that much of its logic boils down to, "Osama wants us out, so we should get out to avoid further terrorist attacks." When does this logic stop? If Osama says Westerners should leave Spain because it's part of the ummah, do we heed his advice there?

This does not mean that we should therefore act in a perfectly contrarian manner either -- it just means that if the U.S. deems putting its troops in a country to be vital for the national interest, I'm not sure Osama bin Laden's objection should count for all that much. Concretizing the problem -- if, say, the governments of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, or the UAE want American troops stationed there, should we say no because of concerns about terrorism?

There's also the question about what regional aftershocks would take place when the U.S. withdraws from Iraq... which could require re-engagement. Would it trigger a wider war? Suzanne Nossel makes an interesting point about this over at Democracy Arsenal:

Many observers predict that if we do leave, the fighting in Iraq will escalate and ultimately reach some sort of stalemate. At that point, we should do whatever we can to facilitate a negotiated settlement through international involvement in mediation and ultimately peacekeeping. It is at this point that a Bosnia-style federal solution may become viable as a more organic outcome, rather than something the US would have to try to impose.
It's worth stepping back for a second and realizing that the U.S. position in Iraq is so bad that this constitutes the rosy scenario of U.S. withdrawal.

Nossel's scenario one way it could go, sure. I'm far from certain that this is likely, however. An open question: would any country in the region really be both willing and able to repulse a combined Iranian-Badr Brigade offensive across the country?

None of this means that Gholz, Press, and Valentino are wrong. It just means that I'm uncertain.

Commenters should probably weigh in at this point.

UPDATE: Daryl Press expands upon the comment he posted below with the following e-mail:

It's really hard to tell how [the Gulf emirates] feel about having us there, to be honest. They say all the right things about their close friendship with the Americans. At least when they're speaking to English-language news outlets. But they must feel pretty conflicted.

* The Iraqi MILITARY threat -- which was the reason they changed their decades-old policy and accepted a "permanent" US military presence, is gone for the forseeable future. What tiny residual MILITARY threat remains could easily be dealt with by "over the horizon" US forces. So the 2003 war means they don't need us for the reason they once did.

* The remaining (and very real) Iraqi threat is a threat of spilled-over domestic turmoil. Having hundreds of armed, experienced fighters return from Iraq to their homes in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the Emirates, may create exaccerbated domestic security problems for those countries, which are further exaccerbated by the US military presence there b/c the angry, armed men returning from Iraq are not friends of the US.

* The Iranian threat -- which everyone says is growing b/c of Iraq's destruction -- is not a direct military threat, but a threat from internal subversion. Again this is exaccerbated by the US presence.

So I'm sure the small Gulf states see some advantage of the close, and visible relationship with the US government -- they must, or they wouuld have kicked us out already. But what that advantage is, it's hard to tell. What I would claim with some certainty is that the cost-benefit balance of having us there is shifting pretty substantially for the reasons above.

My hope is that a US withdrawal is win-win for us and the "pro-U.S." gulf states. The small Gulfies can pretend to be less-close with us than they are, and use their strengthened domestic position to REALLY go after their domestic AQ types within their country, who are targetting their regimes as well as us. And we'd still know we are the backstop in case the oil is going to be taken.

posted by Dan at 08:43 AM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Any other grand strategies out there... anyone?

For the next few days I'm going to be perusing the various grand strategies that have been put out there over the past year or so. So far I've got Francia Fukyama's "realistic Wilsonianism," Robert Wright's "progressive realism," Lieven and Hulsman's "ethical realism," and Slaughter and Ikenberry's "Liberty under Law."

Here's my question to readers -- am I missing anything? Are there other candidate grand strategies that have been proposed in recent years that I'm overlooking?

posted by Dan at 04:33 PM | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)

Mendacity and stupidity are not a party-specific phenomenon

As my previous post might suggest, I'm just a wee bit fed up with the deteriorating and costly U.S. position in the world. It's annoying because, at so many points in time, the Bush administration could have avoided so many of these costs. Instead, we've received ample doses of Bush-endorsed mendacity and stupidity.

However, it should be noted that these qualities are certainly present on the Democratic side of the ledger.

Click here for mendacity.

Click here for stupidity.

posted by Dan at 02:46 PM | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)

It's a good news Monday.... not

Let's see, what's going on in the world today?

According to Carlotta Gall and Ismail Kahn of the New York Times, it now doesn't matter what happens in Afghanistan -- because Al Qaeda and the Taliban have acquired a permanent and unmolested base in Pakistan's tribal regions anyway:

Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.

The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year.

The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials.

This year more than 100 local leaders, government sympathizers or accused “American spies” have been killed, several of them in beheadings, as the militants have used a reign of terror to impose what President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan calls a creeping “Talibanization.” Last year, at least 100 others were also killed.

While the tribes once offered refuge to the militants when they retreated to the area in 2002 after the American invasion of Afghanistan, that welcome is waning as the killings have generated new tensions and added to the region’s volatility.

“They are taking territory,” said one Western ambassador in Pakistan. “They are becoming much more aggressive in Pakistan.”

“It is the lesson from Afghanistan in the ’90s,” he added. “Ungoverned spaces are a problem. The whole tribal area is a problem.”....

After failing to gain control of the areas in military campaigns, the government cut peace deals in South Waziristan in 2004 and 2005, and then in North Waziristan on Sept. 5. Since the September accord, NATO officials say cross-border attacks by Pakistani and Afghan Taliban and their foreign allies have increased.

In recent weeks, Pakistani intelligence officials said the number of foreign fighters in the tribal areas was far higher than the official estimate of 500, perhaps as high as 2,000 today.

These fighters include Afghans and seasoned Taliban leaders, Uzbek and other Central Asian militants, and what intelligence officials estimate to be 80 to 90 Arab terrorist operatives and fugitives, possibly including the Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The tightening web of alliances among these groups in a remote, mountainous area increasingly beyond state authority is potentially disastrous for efforts to combat terrorism as far away as Europe and the United States, intelligence officials warn.

For more on the deteriorating situation, click over to the International Crisis Group's report, "Pakistan’s Tribal Areas: Appeasing the Militants." They pretty much place the blame on the Musharraf government:
Badly planned, poorly conducted military operations are also responsible for the rise of militancy in the tribal belt, where the loss of lives and property and displacement of thousands of civilians have alienated the population. The state’s failure to extend its control over and provide good governance to its citizens in FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas] is equally responsible for empowering the radicals. The only sustainable way of dealing with the challenges of militancy, governance and extremism in FATA is through the rule of law and an extension of civil and political rights. Instead, the government has reinforced administrative and legal structures that undermine the state and spur anarchy.

FATA is tenuously governed because of deliberate policy, not Pashtun tribal traditions or resistance. Since 1947, Pakistan has ruled it by retaining colonial-era administrative and judicial systems unsuited to modern governance. Repressive structures and denial of political representation have generated resentment. To deflect external pressure to curb radicalism, the Musharraf government talks about reforms in FATA but does not follow through. Instead, appeasement has allowed local militants to establish parallel, Taliban-style policing and court systems in the Waziristans, while Talibanisation also spreads into other FATA agencies and even the NWFP’s settled districts.

And then there's Iraq....

One of the few things the Bush administrationostensibly prepared for in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom was an expectation of massive refugee flows to neighboring countries. As Bush officials delighted to point out in first years after the invasion, that was one calamity that did not befall Iraq.

How times have changed. The Boston Globe has been doggedly reporting on the growing refugee problem. This story by Thanassis Cambanis does a good job of illustrating the regional problems Iraqi refugee flows will create. It cites a UNHCR report that points out,""Iraq is hemorrhaging. The humanitarian crisis which the international community had feared in 2003 is now unfolding."

Today's front-pager by Michael Kranish explains the dilemma for the Bush administration:

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.

The official US policy has been that the refugee situation is temporary and that most of the estimated 1.5 million who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and elsewhere will eventually return to Iraq. But US and international officials now acknowledge that the instability in Iraq has made it too dangerous for many refugees, especially Iraqi Christians, to return any time soon....

An effort by hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to resettle in the United States would put the Bush administration in an extraordinarily awkward position. Having waged war to liberate Iraqis, the United States would in effect be admitting failure if it allowed a substantial number of Iraqis to be classified as refugees who could seek asylum here.

Arthur E. "Gene" Dewey, who was President Bush's assistant secretary of state for refugee affairs until last year, said that "for political reasons the administration will discourage" the resettlement of Iraqi refugees in the United States "because of the psychological message it would send, that it is a losing cause."

But Dewey said a tipping point has been reached that is bound to change US policy because so many refugees are convinced that they will not be able to return to Iraq. That tipping point was further weighted by Wednesday's report by the Iraq Study Group that called for the eventual withdrawal of most US forces.

"I think there will increasingly be a moral obligation on the part of the United States" to allow resettlement by Iraqis here, Dewey said. "That is the price for intervention. Similar to Vietnam, that obligation is just going to have to be fulfilled."

Here's a question for any remaining Bush-supporters -- is there any way you can still claim that this is all just an artifact of liberal media bias?

posted by Dan at 09:10 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Lincoln with Chinese characteristics

Three years ago, I wrote the following:

As a regional actor in Asia, Beijing can not and should not be ignored. As a global actor, its profile remains relatively small, even compared with the Unitred States a century ago.
Today, the
New York Times has a front-pager by Joseph Kahn
demonstrating that a lot has happened since then:
In the past several weeks China Central Television has broadcast a 12-part series describing the reasons nine nations rose to become great powers. The series was based on research by a team of elite Chinese historians, who also briefed the ruling Politburo about their findings.

Until recently China’s rising power remained a delicate topic, and largely unspoken, inside China. Beijing has long followed a dictum laid down by Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader who died in 1997: “tao guang yang hui,” literally to hide its ambitions and disguise its claws....

With its $1 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, surging military spending and diplomatic initiatives in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Beijing has begun asserting its interests far beyond its borders. Chinese party leaders are acting as if they intend to start exercising more power abroad rather than just protecting their political power at home.

“Like it or not, China’s rise is becoming a reality,” says Jia Qingguo, associate dean of the Beijing University School of International Studies. “Wherever Chinese leaders go these days, people pay attention. And they can’t just say, ‘I don’t want to get involved.’ ”

Itself a major recipient of foreign aid until recently, China this year promised to provide well over $10 billion in low-interest loans and debt relief to Asian, African and Latin American countries over the next two years. It invited 48 African countries to Beijing last month to a conference aimed at promoting closer cooperation and trade.

Beijing agreed to send 1,000 peacekeepers to Lebanon, its first such action in the Middle East. It has sought to become a more substantial player in a region where the United States traditionally holds far more sway.

At the United Nations Security Council, China cast aside its longstanding policy of opposing sanctions against other nations. It voted to impose penalties on North Korea, its neighbor and onetime ally, for testing nuclear weapons.

Officials and leading scholars are becoming a bit less hesitant to discuss what this all might mean. The documentary, on China’s main national network, uses the word rise constantly, including its title, “Rise of the Great Powers.” It endorses the idea that China should study the experiences of nations and empires it once condemned as aggressors bent on exploitation.

“Our China, the Chinese people, the Chinese race has become revitalized and is again stepping onto the world stage,” Qian Chengdan, a professor at Beijing University and the intellectual father of the television series, said in an online dialogue about the documentary on, a leading Web site.

“It is extremely important for today’s China to be able to draw some lessons from the experiences of others,” he said.

Kahn reviews the documentary series [Hey, PBS, how about purchasing its rights and broadcasting a version with subtitles here in the states?!--ed.]. This part stands out: "In the 90 minutes devoted to examining the rise of the United States, Lincoln is accorded a prominent part for his efforts to “preserve national unity” during the Civil War. China has made reunification with Taiwan a top national priority."

It will be interesting to see how and when China translates its growing economic power into ideational power. This, intriguingly, is (kind of) the topic of Jeffrey Garten's op-ed in the NYT about higher education in Asia:

At a summit meeting of leaders next week in the Philippines, senior officials from India, Singapore, Japan and perhaps other countries are scheduled to discuss the revival of an ancient university in India called Nalanda. It is a topic unlikely to receive much mention in the Western press. But no one should underestimate the potential benefits of this project to Asia, or the influence it could have on Asia’s role in the world, or the revolutionary impact it could make on global higher education....

At the Asian summit meeting next week, a consortium led by Singapore and including India, Japan and others will discuss raising the $500 million needed to build a new university in the vicinity of the old site and perhaps another $500 million to develop the roads and other infrastructure to make the institution work. The problem is that the key Asian officials are not thinking big enough. There is more talk about making Nalanda a cultural site or a center for philosophy than a first-rate modern university. The financial figures being thrown around are a fraction of the endowments of Harvard, Yale or Columbia today. A bolder vision is in order.

The rebuilt university should strive to be a great intellectual center, as the original Nalanda once was. This will be exceedingly difficult to achieve; even today, Asia’s best universities have a long way to go to be in the top tier. In a recent ranking of universities worldwide, Newsweek included only one Asian institution, the University of Tokyo, in the world’s top 25. In a similar tally by The Times of London, there are only three non-Western universities in the top 25....

Today, Nalanda’s opportunity is to exploit what is lacking in so many institutions of higher education. That includes great medical schools that focus on delivering health care to the poor, law schools that emphasize international law, business schools that focus on the billions of people who live on two dollars a day but who have the potential to become tomorrow’s middle class, and schools that focus intensely on global environmental issues. Can Asia pull this off? Financially, it should be easy. China’s foreign exchange reserves just broke all global records and reached $1 trillion. And Japan’s mountain of cash isn’t that far behind.

But the bigger issue is imagination and willpower. It is not clear that the Asian nations are prepared to unite behind anything concrete except trade agreements, either for their benefit or the world’s. It appears doubtful that with all their economic prowess, and their large armies, they understand that real power also comes from great ideas and from people who generate them, and that truly great universities are some of their strongest potential assets. I would like to be proved wrong in these judgments. How Asia approaches the resurrection of Nalanda will be a good test.

I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that Garten is focused too much on regional initiaties and not enough on national ones -- but this seems like enough to chew on for the weekend.

posted by Dan at 09:08 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, December 8, 2006

Syllabi for next semester

The following is likely to only interest students at the Fletcher School:

Here are the syllabi for my spring courses:

DHP D210 -- The Art and Science of Statecraft

DHP H204 -- Classics in International Relations Theory

Both syllabi are subject to minor changes over the next month.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who are caching typos!

posted by Dan at 11:37 PM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

The perils of precocious children

A breakfast play, in one act (draft only):

MOTHER: Sam, what would you like for breakfast?

SAM (6 years old): Waffles!!

MOTHER: Sam, I'm afraid we're out of waffles. What else would you like to eat?

SAM: I don't want anythiing else. I want waffles!!

MOTHER: Sam, you're just going to have to adapt.

SAM: No, I do not have to adapt!!

MOTHER: Sam, if you don't adapt, you're going to go the way of the dinosaurs.

SAM: That's not true!! The dinosaurs are extinct because an asteroid hit the Earth!! Adapting didn't have anything to do with it.

MOTHER (in stage whisper to father): S**t!!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Use cereal bars as deus ex machina to end play if necessary.

posted by Dan at 07:55 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Draw your own conclusions about American pop culture

What is the significance of the fact that the following is currently ranked as the most viewed YouTube video for today?

A) The imminent arrival of the apocalypse?

B) Ironic detachment is now the predominant stance of Internet users?

C) YouTube has jumped the shark?

D) Ain't nothin' over til it's over?

E) There are a lot of Airplane II: The Sequel fans?

F) Montage sequence + Bill Conti theme = Crazy delicious?

posted by Dan at 03:53 PM | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)

Save the rust belt -- and screw western Washington

The New York Times' Leslie Wayne looks at the renewed demand for Boein's 747 jet. Turns out that the expansion of trade has something to do with it:

[A] funny thing happened to the 747 on the way to the graveyard: it found a new tailwind, and a strong one at that.

Demand is growing for the new 747-8 Intercontinental, which was introduced a year ago. Boeing now has 73 orders for the plane after its latest lift yesterday from Lufthansa, the big German carrier, which announced it was placing a $5.5 billion order for 20 747-8s, and took options to buy 20 more....

In large part, the 747’s new lease on life is owed to global trade. Until the Lufthansa deal was announced, all 747-8 orders had been for the freighter version of the plane. Even the initial orders for the latest model were for air freighters, an unusual move in an industry that likes to kick off new models with orders from high-profile passenger carriers.

But, technological advances, particularly next-generation fuel-efficient engines, improved the economics of operating a four-engine passenger plane like the 747.

“The new 747 is an inexpensive way for Boeing to capture some passenger orders, a lot of cargo orders and make a fair amount of money because of the Airbus 380 hiccup,” said Jon B. Kutler, chief executive of Admiralty Partners, a private investment firm in Santa Monica, Calif., that specializes in aerospace....

When Airbus announced the A380, Boeing looked flat-footed. For years, it appeared to dither about the future of the 747. It ordered up a number of 747-X studies of an advanced version of the plane, but came to no conclusion.

But the dithering paid off. As time marched on, so did technology. And when Boeing shifted its emphasis into developing its new 787 Dreamliner, a wide-body midsize passenger plane, many of the technologies it pioneered for that plane could be adapted to the 747, including the fuel-efficient engines developed for the 787 and a new wing design that could stretch its flying range....

As manufacturing increasingly moves to Asia and worldwide commerce increases, the cargo market is growing at a faster rate than the passenger market — about 6 percent a year, compared with passenger growth of about 4 percent, according to Air Cargo Management. (That said, the passenger market is about three times the size of the freighter market, with revenue of $185 billion last year.)

At the moment, there are 481 747 freighters in use. This compares with 353 in 2000. While there are many smaller cargo planes — and the combined total of all them exceeds the number of 747 freighters in the air — the 747 is the only big cargo plane available and is the only plane that can be used for some large loads.

posted by Dan at 08:51 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Open Baker-Hamilton thread

Comment away on:

1) The Iraq Study Group's report;

2) The likelihood of any of its recommendations being implemented;

3) The likelihood of any of its recommendations actually working

posted by Dan at 01:24 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

The gift that keeps on giving for protectionism

Ah, the Democratically-controlled Congress -- is there any step towards economic liberalization that they won't block?

Don Phillips, "U.S. Withdraws Plan on Foreign Investment in Airlines, Disrupting Open-Skies Treaty," New York Times, December 6, 2006:

The Bush administration withdrew a plan on Tuesday to give European airlines more freedom to invest in American airlines and to participate in management decisions, bowing to opposition expected to deepen in a Democratic-controlled Congress.

The decision deals a blow to greater cooperation between United States and European airlines. Europe had made the investor rule a condition for putting in place the so-called open skies treaty with the United States, which is needed to allow airlines based in Europe or the United States to fly with little or no restrictions to each other’s territories. Such flights are now often subject to government-to-government negotiations.

The open skies treaty, which has been agreed to by the United States and the European Union, is far more important on both sides of the Atlantic than the separate foreign ownership rule. Europe could easily allow the open skies treaty to take effect at any time, but it has made such an issue of tying the two together that it now faces embarrassment if it appears to give in.

Yet Tuesday’s development is probably not the end of the negotiations that govern international air accords, said Mary Peters, the transportation secretary, whose agency issued the ruling....

The European transport commissioner, Jacques Barrot, told the Associated Press that the European Union was disappointed with the decision, saying that scrapping the foreign ownership rule had been an essential element in concluding a deal on the separate open skies issue.

Nonetheless, Mr. Barrot said negotiators planned to meet again shortly.

The foreign ownership rules would have changed a series of administrative decisions that have been interpreted to strictly limit the ability of any European airline investor to participate in the management of an American airline. European airlines said the rules were so strict that a United States citizen with a single share of stock would have a greater say in airline management than the European airline investor.

The rules have led European airlines to sell their interests in American carriers. Even if the Bush administration had approved the proposed rules, foreigners would still have been limited to 25 percent of voting equity in United States airlines.

Aviation specialists say Europe will probably approve the open skies accord in 2007, even if there is no action on the foreign ownership rules, because Europe stands to gain even more than the United States.

The foreign ownership proposal had been strongly opposed by influential members of Congress, unions and several major airlines led by Continental. British Airways was also cool to the idea because it would have allowed the open skies rules to go into effect, giving other airlines greater access to Heathrow Airport, which it dominates.

Representative James Oberstar, a Democrat from Minnesota who is expected to become chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, commended Ms. Peters for her decision. Mr. Oberstar said Ms. Peters chose to do the right thing in the face of strong pressure from the administration and from the European Union.

I was curious about he substantive reasons why unions were opposing this particular agreement, seeing as the sweatshop argument did not seem credible.

You see some of the union arguments by clicking here and here. As near as I can determine, the primary reason for opposition is based on simple protectionism akin to the Dubai Ports World episode-- they simply do not want to see foreign ownership and control of U.S. carriers.

As for the benefits of an Open Skies arrangement? One union head argued that since the benefits are likely to be realized in the medium to long-term, there's no real cost to scuttling the arrangement.

Gonna be a long two years.....

UPDATE: This FT story by Doug Cameron and Andrew Bounds provides some more context for the Open Skies agreement:

The grounded open-skies deal was only half the prize sought by both sides. Ending most market-access restrictions would have triggered a second round of talks aimed at creating an Open Aviation Area (OAA), with more alignment of safety, security and competition policy and, perhaps, investment and ownership rules....

Governments and airlines have sought for two decades to find a way to replace the 1944 Chicago Convention which governs the industry. This requires new routes to be negotiated on a bilateral government-to-government basis for airlines that are “nationally” owned and controlled.

That was the opportunity presented by the OAA between the US and EU, and one closely-watched by regulators in other trade regions. Mary Peters, the US transportation secretary, admitted this week that the thorniest issue of all – foreign ownership and control of US airlines – remains politically unpalatable.

Congress rejected a move to raise the 25 per cent ceiling on voting rights by foreign investors in 2003, and the incoming Democratic majority appears in no mood to move on the issue.

Ms Peters is also unwilling to sacrifice progress in other areas – such as solving the broader congestion in the US transportation system – by alienating Congress.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times' Paul Thornton has more on the killing of this deal (hat tip: Virginia Postrel). He also addresses the national security concern -- as I suspected, it's about as well-placed as the Dubai Ports World fiasco:
A "homeland security risk"? All the DOT's proposal would have allowed is non-citizens to hold executive positions in airlines that oversee purely economic decisions (think fares, routes and aircraft purchases). The proposal explicitly -- I repeat, explicitly -- walled off non-citizen managers from having any say in an airline's security. In fact, the DOT proposal would have left the 25% foreign ownership cap completely intact; it even had the blessing of the Department of Defense....

But the anti-foreign ownership and Open Skies troupe in Congress isn't appealing to our economic sensibilities. If they did, doubtless they'd lose (imagine running for re-election on "I voted to increase ticket prices on transatlantic flights!"). Instead, their arguments have a xenophobic tinge, relying on our assuming that non-citizens are somehow less trustworthy than Uncle Sam's own kids to run an airline. Economics aside, that's the biggest problem with Oberstar and the protectionist crowd.

posted by Dan at 08:43 AM | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (2)

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Campaign for America's Future... and its enemies

In what I am convinced is a plot to make me reject Brink Lindsey's efforts to get libertarians and liberals to kiss on the first date, I was sent the following press release:

More than 100 leaders, speaking for dozens of progressive organizations, assembled today to organize a campaign to back major portions of the House Democrats' early legislative agenda. The attending groups represent an expansion of a regular meeting of progressive leaders known as the "Tuesday Group." Organizers said support for key elements of the agenda represents a down payment on a more ambitious agenda for change promised by the new majority in Congress.

More than 40 groups, led by Americans United, U.S.Action and the Campaign for America's Future, met to outline plans to press House and Senate members to vote for a minimum wage increase, negotiating for lower drug prices, student loan interest rate reductions, and a repeal of tax benefits for the oil and gas industry to pay for public investment in alternative energy sources. These agenda items are part of House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi's agenda for the first 100 legislative hours of the House next month.

The groups devoted almost their entire meeting to building participation and momentum for the coalition effort, known as CAN - Change America Now. The campaign is growing as groups turn their post-election attention to moving an immediate agenda, which they see as a down payment on a larger agenda for creating an economy that works for working people.

"Democrats ran the most populist elections in memory," said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future and a co-chair of today's Tuesday Group meeting. "We need to make sure the Democrats deliver on their promises, and that the 100 Hours Agenda is just the first step in creating an economy that works for working people. The 100 Hours Agenda gives Democrats a chance to show that we support positive policies for change, and we're not just against the Republican agenda." (emphasis added)

I should add that I do think the Campaign for America's future is likely correct in its assertion that "Democrats ran the most populist elections in memory." For support, click on this Stan Greenberg analysis of the midterm exit polls, as well as Public Citizen's report, "Election 2006: No to Staying the Course on Trade."

posted by Dan at 07:12 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

What happened to bowling alone?

The Corporation for National and Community Service -- a government entity that runs AmeriCorps and Senior Corps -- issues a report that would, at first glance, surprise those who have read Bowling Alone. From the press release:

Volunteering has reached a 30-year high in the United States, as more people pitch in to help their communities, according to a study released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service....

The report, Volunteer Growth in America: A Review of Trends Since 1974, finds that adult volunteering rose sharply between 1989 and 2005, increasing more than 32 percent over the last 16 years....

The brief analyzes volunteering rates in 1974, 1989 and 2002-2005, using information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It finds that the growth in volunteering is driven primarily by three age groups: teenagers 16 to 19, Baby Boomers and others age 45 to 65, and older adults 65 and over....

Among the findings:

  • Older teenagers (ages 16-19) have more than doubled their time spent volunteering since 1989.

  • Far from being a “Me Generation,” Baby Boomers are volunteering at sharply higher rates than did the previous generation at mid-life.

  • The volunteer rate for Americans ages 65 years and over has increased 64 percent since 1974.

  • The proportion of Americans volunteering with an educational or youth service organization has seen a 63 percent increase just since just 1989....
  • Educational and youth service organizations (such as schools, 4-H, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts) are benefiting from the growth because they have received the largest increase in volunteers between 1989 and 2006. Nearly 24.6 percent of all adult volunteers serve through such organizations, a 63 percent increase since 1989. The biggest percentage of volunteers serves through religious organizations, although the proportion of Americans contributing time to those groups has decreased slightly, from 37.4 percent to 35.5 percent, since 1989.

    Noting that volunteering actually declined between 1974 and 1989 before rebounding, Grimm cited several reasons for heightened civic engagement today:

  • Teenagers are volunteering in greater numbers, in part, because of an increase in service-learning programs in schools and colleges that combine classroom study with community activity. Another reason may be a response to traumatic national events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and recent natural disasters.

  • Mid-life adults are more likely to have children in the home because Americans are delaying marriage and childbearing. The result is increased exposure to volunteering opportunities connected to their children’s school and extracurricular activities.

  • Older Americans are living longer, are better educated, and more financially secure – creating an increased desire for them to remain active and seek ways to give back to communities.
  • After another glance, this result can be partially and uneasily reconciled with Putnam's thesis of declining social capital. First, Putnam focused on a wide range of behaviors beyond volunteerism, which this report doesn't cover. Second, this report still shows a volunteering gap among Gen X-ers like myself, which prompted Putnam's book in the first place. Third, describing the growth of teenage participation in these kind of activities as "volunteerism" stretches the meaning of the word a bit, since "service-learning programs" are often mandated at the high school level (that said, the growth of volunteerism at the high school level might also be a function of market pressures -- you want to get into a good college,you need to demonstrate volunteerism).

    One question I'm curious about: these service programs have been in place for quite some time now. Does anyone know if hard data exists showing that participation in them triggers a life-long pattern of volunteerism?

    posted by Dan at 09:01 AM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

    Monday, December 4, 2006

    Name that mutual interest!!!

    The AP reports that State Department press officer Eric Watnik has a wry sense of humor when it comes to Venezuela:

    The State Department, long at odds with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, greeted the populist leader's landslide re-election victory by holding out the possibility of a more cooperative relationship with his government.

    "We look forward to having the opportunity to work with the Venezuelan government on issues of mutual interest," State Department press officer Eric Watnik said Monday.

    Chavez, meanwhile, saw his victory as a setback for the United States. "It's another defeat for the devil, who tries to dominate the world," Chavez told the crowd of supporters in Caracas. "Down with imperialism. We need a new world."

    Watnik's brief comments did not offer congratulations to Chavez nor did it make direct reference to him or what it regards as the increasingly authoritarian course he is pursuing....

    On Friday, two days before the election, National Director of Intelligence John Negroponte outlined U.S. concerns about Chavez in a wide-ranging speech at Harvard University.

    He said Chavez's "meddling in the domestic affairs of other states in the region — granting Colombia's FARC insurgents safe haven and other material support, for example — already has made him a divisive force."

    He criticized Venezuela's attitude toward drug trafficking as "permissive," an allegation Venezuelan officials have denied.

    Venezuela's growing ties to Iran and other states, such as North Korea, Syria, and Belarus, "clearly demonstrate a desire to build an anti-U.S. coalition that extends well beyond Latin America," Negroponte said. (emphasis added)

    Readers are strongly encouraged to name issues in which Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush would share a mutual interest.

    posted by Dan at 02:08 PM | Comments (14) | Trackbacks (0)

    Who's going to fuse with libertarians?

    Over at The New Republic, Brink Lindsey argues that Democrats should start catering liberarians more aggrssively:

    Libertarian disaffection [with the GOP] should come as no surprise. Despite the GOP's rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq.

    This woeful record cannot simply be blamed on politicians failing to live up to their conservative principles. Conservatism itself has changed markedly in recent years, forsaking the old fusionist synthesis in favor of a new and altogether unattractive species of populism. The old formulation defined conservatism as the desire to protect traditional values from the intrusion of big government; the new one seeks to promote traditional values through the intrusion of big government. Just look at the causes that have been generating the real energy in the conservative movement of late: building walls to keep out immigrants, amending the Constitution to keep gays from marrying, and imposing sectarian beliefs on medical researchers and families struggling with end-of-life decisions....

    Libertarian-leaning voters started drifting away from the GOP even before Katrina, civil war in Iraq, and Mark Foley launched the general stampede. In their recent Cato-published study "The Libertarian Vote," David Boaz and David Kirby analyzed polling data from Gallup, the American National Election Studies, and the Pew Research Center and concluded that 13 percent of the population, or 28 million voting-age Americans, can be fairly classified as libertarian-leaning. Back in 2000, this group voted overwhelmingly for Bush, supporting him over Al Gore by a 72-20 margin. By 2004, however, John Kerry--whose only discernible libertarian credential was that he wasn't George W. Bush--got 38 percent of the libertarian vote, while Bush's support fell to 59 percent. Congressional races showed a similar trend. In 2002, libertarians favored Republican House candidates by a 70-23 spread and Republican Senate candidates by a 74-15 margin. Things tightened up considerably in 2004, though, as the GOP edge fell to 53-44 in House races and 54-43 in Senate contests.

    To date, Democrats have made inroads with libertarian voters primarily by default....

    In short, if Democrats hope to continue appealing to libertarian-leaning voters, they are going to have to up their game. They need to ask themselves: Are we content with being a brief rebound fling for jilted libertarians, or do we want to form a lasting relationship? Let me make a case for the second option.

    I'm not going to excerpt Lindsey's case because it should be read in full (click here to read it if you're not a TNR subscriber).

    One critique of it is that while Lindsey focuses on the possible areas of common ground (corporate welfare, immigration, tax reform) he elides the issues where Democrats want to promote economic populism (the minimum wage, trade expansion) because it gets more votes than libertarians can proffer themselves. Even here, however, Lindsey could argue that programs do exist (trade adjustment assistance) that could potentially split the difference.

    My only other critique comes with what's missing in this paragraph:

    Conservative fusionism, the defining ideology of the American right for a half-century, was premised on the idea that libertarian policies and traditional values are complementary goods. That idea still retains at least an intermittent plausibility--for example, in the case for school choice as providing a refuge for socially conservative families. But an honest survey of the past half-century shows a much better match between libertarian means and progressive ends. Most obviously, many of the great libertarian breakthroughs of the era--the fall of Jim Crow, the end of censorship, the legalization of abortion, the liberalization of divorce laws, the increased protection of the rights of the accused, the reopening of immigration--were championed by the political left.
    None of what's in this paragraph is incorrect. Again, however, Lindsey does omit the successes in microeconomic policy -- deregulation, welfare reform, declines in marginal tax rates, shifts in antitrust policy, the 1986 tax reform -- that conservative fusionism produced in the past few decades.

    UPDATE: Sebastian Mallaby mulls over Lindsey's essay in the Washington Post today. Hat tip to Inactivist, who also has some thoughts on the matter. Also check out the series of posts at the Volokh Conspiracy.

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Over at The American Spectator, John Tabin suggests that a liberal-libertarian fusionism won't take:

    The problem with this idea is that classical liberalism (or libertarianism) and modern liberalism (or progressivism, or egalitarian liberalism) are fundamentally at odds philosophically. The crux of the split is the difference between negative and positive liberty, a difference that illuminates how libertarians and liberals are separated even when they seem to be allied.
    It's convenient for conservatives to make this argument, but Tabin shrewdly links to this Matt Yglesias post from a few months ago that makes the same point:
    For one thing, a lot of the views liberals tend to think of us libertarian-ish liberal positions aren't actually especially libertarian at the end of the day. For example, liberals, like libertarians, don't think the coercive authority of the state should be deployed to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Unlike libertarians, however, liberals generally think the coercive authority of the state should be deployed to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. We think that landlords shouldn't be allowed to refuse to rent houses to gay men, that bartenders shouldn't be allowed to refuse to serve them, that employers shouldn't be allowed to fire them, etc. Liberals believe in a certain notion of human liberation from entrenched dogma, prejudice, and tradition, but this isn't the same as hostility to state action, even in the sex-and-gender sphere.
    To argue in favor of Lindsey now, these are good but not devastating points. Both Tabin and Yglesias assume that all libertarians are so dogmatic that they cannot compromise in the interest of pursuing larger gains. Most libertarians -- including, I suspect, the overwhelming majority of the 28 million voting-age Americans that Boaz and Kirby identify as libertarian -- will not automatically blanch at, say, anti-discrimination laws as a deal-breaker. Well, they'd blanch, but they wouldn't faint.

    In other words, libertarians run the gamut from Murray Rothbard to, say, Milton Friedman. And more of them are sympatico with someone like Friedman than someone like Rothbard. [Rothbard had reasons to link with the left as well!--ed. True, which suggest a very different lib-lib fusionism than the one that interests Lindsey.]

    Tabin responds to my points here.

    posted by Dan at 08:10 AM | Comments (21) | Trackbacks (7)

    Sunday, December 3, 2006

    We've got blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, spam, and blog

    So I see that the second-most interesting article about blogs in the New York Times today got a lot of attention. That would be K. Daniel Glober's op-ed on the increased linkages between bloggers and political candidates:

    The Netroots.” “People Power.” “Crashing the Gate.” The lingo of liberal Web bloggers bespeaks contempt for the political establishment. The same disdain is apparent among many bloggers on the right, who argued passionately for a change in the slate of House Republican leaders — and who wallowed in woe-is-the-party pity when the establishment ignored them.

    You might think that with the kind of rhetoric bloggers regularly muster against politicians, they would never work for them. But you would be wrong.

    Over the past few years, bloggers have won millions of fans by speaking truth to power — even the powers in their own parties — and presenting a fresh, outsider perspective. They are the pamphleteers of the 21st century, revolutionary “citizen journalists” motivated by personal idealism and an unwavering confidence that they can reform American politics.

    But this year, candidates across the country found plenty of outsiders ready and willing to move inside their campaigns. Candidates hired some bloggers to blog and paid others consulting fees for Internet strategy advice or more traditional campaign tasks like opposition research....

    The trend seems certain to continue in 2008. Potential presidential hopefuls like Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain already are paying big-name bloggers as consultants, and Julie Fanselow of Red State Rebels said on her blog she would entertain job offers from Howard Dean, Barack Obama, John Edwards or Al Gore.

    “This intersection isn’t going away,” Jerome Armstrong of MyDD, an elite blogger hired by campaigns, wrote earlier this year, “and I hope more and more bloggers are able to work to influence how campaigns are run.”

    Here is a listing of some of the most influential bloggers who went to work for campaigns this year, what they were paid according to campaign disclosure documents, and praiseworthy posts about their employers or critical ones of their employers’ opponents.

    As William Beutler points out, this op-ed has not had the best of reactions in the blogosphere -- in large part because the piece could give the impression that some campaign bloggers did not act up to the Times' ethical standards.

    Me,I just yawned, and recalled what I wrote about this six months ago:

    What's going on is not illegal, or even out of the ordinary in Washington, DC. It's politics as usual. The only reason the story is noteworthy is because bloggers... have persistently said that they and theirs -- a.k.a., the netroots -- are not about politics as usual.

    Over time, however, that claim looks less and less viable. The question is whether bloggers... find that their legions of readers are turned off by these kind of revelations, or whether they comfortably adjust into being middleweight power brokers....

    In other words, the gates have been crashed.

    Now, the most interesting story about blogs in the NYT today was Clive Thompson's cover story in the magazine about how blogs and wikis could prove useful structures for intelligence analysis:
    [T]hroughout the intelligence community, spies are beginning to wonder why their technology has fallen so far behind — and talk among themselves about how to catch up. Some of the country’s most senior intelligence thinkers have joined the discussion, and surprisingly, many of them believe the answer may lie in the interactive tools the world’s teenagers are using to pass around YouTube videos and bicker online about their favorite bands. Billions of dollars’ worth of ultrasecret data networks couldn’t help spies piece together the clues to the worst terrorist plot ever. So perhaps, they argue, it’ s time to try something radically different. Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?....

    Intelligence heads wanted to try to find some new answers to this problem. So the C.I.A. set up a competition, later taken over by the D.N.I., called the Galileo Awards: any employee at any intelligence agency could submit an essay describing a new idea to improve information sharing, and the best ones would win a prize. The first essay selected was by Calvin Andrus, chief technology officer of the Center for Mission Innovation at the C.I.A. In his essay, “The Wiki and the Blog: Toward a Complex Adaptive Intelligence Community,” Andrus posed a deceptively simple question: How did the Internet become so useful in helping people find information?

    Andrus argued that the real power of the Internet comes from the boom in self-publishing: everyday people surging online to impart their thoughts and views. He was particularly intrigued by Wikipedia, the “reader-authored” encyclopedia, where anyone can edit an entry or create a new one without seeking permission from Wikipedia’s owners. This open-door policy, as Andrus noted, allows Wikipedia to cover new subjects quickly. The day of the London terrorist bombings, Andrus visited Wikipedia and noticed that barely minutes after the attacks, someone had posted a page describing them. Over the next hour, other contributors — some physically in London, with access to on-the-spot details — began adding more information and correcting inaccurate news reports. “You could just sit there and hit refresh, refresh, refresh, and get a sort of ticker-tape experience,” Andrus told me. What most impressed Andrus was Wikipedia’s self-governing nature. No central editor decreed what subjects would be covered. Individuals simply wrote pages on subjects that interested them — and then like-minded readers would add new facts or fix errors. Blogs, Andrus noted, had the same effect: they leveraged the wisdom of the crowd. When a blogger finds an interesting tidbit of news, he posts a link to it, along with a bit of commentary. Then other bloggers find that link and, if they agree it’s an interesting news item, post their own links pointing to it. This produces a cascade effect. Whatever the first blogger pointed toward can quickly amass so many links pointing in its direction that it rockets to worldwide notoriety in a matter of hours.

    Spies, Andrus theorized, could take advantage of these rapid, self-organizing effects. If analysts and agents were encouraged to post personal blogs and wikis on Intelink — linking to their favorite analyst reports or the news bulletins they considered important — then mob intelligence would take over. In the traditional cold-war spy bureaucracy, an analyst’s report lived or died by the whims of the hierarchy. If he was in the right place on the totem pole, his report on Soviet missiles could be pushed up higher; if a supervisor chose to ignore it, the report essentially vanished. Blogs and wikis, in contrast, work democratically. Pieces of intel would receive attention merely because other analysts found them interesting. This grass-roots process, Andrus argued, suited the modern intelligence challenge of sifting through thousands of disparate clues: if a fact or observation struck a chord with enough analysts, it would snowball into popularity, no matter what their supervisors thought.

    Clearly there are downsides as well, and Thompson discusses most of them in the story.

    posted by Dan at 08:17 PM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

    Friday, December 1, 2006

    Macroeconomics 101 in two paragraphs

    Not really -- but this Brad DeLong essay contains two paragraphs that do an excellent job of explaining the complex interplay between what John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman believed:

    From one perspective, Friedman was the star pupil of, successor to, and completer of Keynes’s work. Keynes, in his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, set out the framework that nearly all macroeconomists use today. That framework is based on spending and demand, the determinants of the components of spending, the liquidity-preference theory of short-run interest rates, and the requirement that government make strategic but powerful interventions in the economy to keep it on an even keel and avoid extremes of depression and manic excess. As Friedman said, “We are all Keynesians now.”

    But Keynes’s theory was incomplete: his was a theory of employment, interest, and money. It was not a theory of prices. To Keynes’s framework, Friedman added a theory of prices and inflation, based on the idea of the natural rate of unemployment and the limits of government policy in stabilising the economy around its long-run growth trend — limits beyond which intervention would trigger uncontrollable and destructive inflation.

    Hat tip: Greg Mankiw.

    posted by Dan at 09:30 AM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)